To Paint the Inside of a Church
After Tarkovsky’s Andrei Rublev
Beneath the glamour of the pipe organ
there are bellows. Underneath the church
of the Grand Prince there’s the dour
obligation of immortality
as if it were the family business,
and preparation for an abiding name
exists like Latin classes.
Andrei is trying so hard
not to make a mark or a sound
but cannot help it—something unattached
to ego drives on this faith painting,
though the body that germinates
belief still throws such shade
he feels impelled to the crossroads
of yellow flowers buzzing
so full of bees that if this scene were shaken
upside down it would not be pollen
that trickles out but legs and wings.
Beneath the pipe organ’s glamour
there is a pit that breathes
and every tone must be mixed precisely.
Imagine the months and years
of painting the inside of a church
while others have their tongues cut out.
To paint the inside of a Russian church
dome in the fifteenth century
is to be the very sound of a bell.
A fire once started can take care of itself—
all it knows is eat.
It can clear a field so nicely.
This can be good or bad for us.
No rules call and there is no dialogue
with the conscience,
only giving things to fire and
allowing the instinctive eat.
Andrei did not approve of how the pagan
woman loved but I think she won.
To live inside a church
whose walls you paint
is to live a life of scaffolds.
His shroud is a bell.
His cloak is a bell,
feet bells and all the violence
he sees is a tonal gradation
towards the most splendid red—
one forever repeated blow
and its resonance.
At the Bergman Museum
The lightning is concerned with a secret
affair far off in the unlit Baltic.
Only the rain comes home.
Tracking down the road, my bicycle, my eye,
past the Viking huts with their weird antennae,
I am riding a lightning conductor away
from a museum about a recluse.
If it were not for the storm I may have had time
to visit the grave, but now perhaps this cloud is Bergman.
In the museum the rooms are red. Red is for cinema,
and inside of the head. Above us, flying nightdresses—
invisible children suspended, they’ve taken their final leap
into the afterlife. They are still here, but are now ghosts
made of non-water; or they’re a memory returned, animated
There are many rooms, frames. We make them
move by passing through and remembering our own sequences.
When the storm breaks I’m in a bus shelter at Sudersand
and the rain is full and clean like ice-melt. It makes me thirsty.
I’m cold. I don a black shirt printed with those grey runes hidden
like magic keys across this island.
Artists should be mindful: never trust a memory with an heirloom,
unless at night from Gotland’s shore, ghosts stream across
the waterway to Fårö … For if Ingmar’s films broke
into his dreams and, as he said, sat at the base
of his soul, maturing comfortably like mighty cheeses,
perhaps now he haunts the work right back.
What meets eyes that gaze at such a light?
Exoskeletons in the tiny night.