Audience of One

fugue with sunset

Tonight's salmon sunset is sumptuously arrayed
in fillets and orange slices on silver platters
all along the horizon's deep walnut buffet.

At my turn on line, hungrier than I thought, I...
but there's something wrong: in all the stacks
of clinking china, this plate's got cracks,
the metaphor's faulty—unless palm trees are parsley.

Roadside silhouettes blot and blear the syrupy light,
vacancies in the luminous panel of memory and identity foreground:
wordless billboards shutter vast rifts;
eucalyptus skeletons shuffle, ricky-tik, up and down
zig-zaggy roof-steps; a bloated vinyl corpse,
tied with wire tethers, drifts off a flamingo shoal...

I'm sorry, now I've forgotten what I was going to say...
these lapses and thickenings, pickets in the days' fences,
show the blank surface around mind's perforations.
A child doesn't notice, peering in at quiet gardens,
but the white clicks his clattering stick makes as he runs blur.

Faces in phone calls, messages in the junk mail,
the discreet dishes of breakfast, how it felt
when love cooled in the pastel air of Indian summer's twilight—
all forgotten, as vigilance relaxes with the light-loss.

Too tired from looking and then from seeing
to hold sight—hold open these bright, bright eyes—
even hunger, unsated just an hour before, fades
as the mask beneath the mask lifts, the overlap of darknesses,
the heavy collage of voids, completes
covering something... irrecoverable
of who I am or something else
that presses back up from the sunken sun.

Kevin Cornwall © All rights reserved.

Contact the author about this poem