Two Poems by Marsha Pomerantz


Turner I

Painting Parliament burning, Turner reverses
the drift of the wind so the river can echo yellow

with red reverberations as crowds on boats observe
the melding of towers and time, and all parties puddle

in conflations of paint. Bad buildings deserve,
some hold, to ashen in their heap. Now as cinders

descend, leaders will be better. Reform will infuse
the air, new laws sprout out of stone as soon as

the paint dries. But rivulets of thinner subvert,
and winds once unleashed in a lie rarely return.


Turner II

Life I find don’t you is full of interruption. The clothes out of a dryer and where to fold them and how long do they hold their warmth. For The Burning of the Houses of Parliament Turner reversed the direction of the wind so that flames went toward the Thames, maximizing reflection. In life I like to maximize reflection don’t you. If you fold them on the basement table you have to carry piles upstairs like a cartoon chef with a flapjack stack. Where’s the insurance the woman was saying I’m no spring chicken, what if the house burns down. He said bouillon bouillon bouillon in the French way. In life I like to go up stairs with crêpes don’t you. If you bring them up to fold them on the bed will you drop socks. Nanny said mais non non non Eloise and best in the book was the uncombable hair. Life I find is largely uncombable don’t you. That warm towels would be so reassuring in this day and age when attacks in the desert follow fighting between north and south so I’ve stopped reading the news. The gas dryer is controlled wind and fire so who can blame Turner for his lie. I see in my diary from last October that Botticelli gave up beauty for Savonarola and I want to make something of it don’t you. If you bring them up not to lie but to maximize reflection. Those refugee camps like stage sets with smoke rising, those Times photographers I’ll bet lugging dry ice. If you are a lonely child or a child of any onlyness you want to be somewhere close-knit like say the Plaza. Willy-nilly there are people around but willy-nilly is a thing of the past. Now we have intention don’t you. If your name was Turner would you paint straight. Some surfboard sails have a clear vinyl window through which you see the wind, your motor and motive, looking back. Life I find looking back is full of motor and motive don’t you. Was Botticelli’s conversion caused by Turner’s inversion. His revulsion at rivulets of thinner, paint forever wet. What if you rode in the dryer, unfolding all winter. Or were paint in an open can swung round and round and non non non Eloise: suddenly centripetal, you spatter all over gravity. Fun is not the word. But wait a minute I’ll tell you what is.

About the Author:

Marsha Pomerantz’s The Illustrated Edge (Biblioasis) was among the Boston Globe’s Best Poetry Books of 2011. Support for her work has included a Massachusetts Cultural Council Artist Fellowship (2012) and residencies at the MacDowell Colony. She works as managing editor at the Harvard Art Museums.