Sunday, February 7, 2016

Vermillion - A Poem on Revision

 Looking at color on the internet is like taking a hike using Google Maps. On the other hand, it is a place to start. The color Vermilion comes from the mineral cinnabar and was popular in the Middle Ages, used frequently in the colorization of illuminated manuscripts. The Chinese also favored Vermilion for their lacquerware. Vermilion was also a favorite, it seems, with the painter Pierre Bonard.

 However, this is a post about the art of revision. Linda Pastan shows us the way a poem can turn ("Just so I stopped you") one idea into another, finally bridging the gap between painter and lover. For this reader, it is the final couplet that brings us back to the work of poetry.

Pierre Bonnard would enter

the museum with a tube of paint
in his pocket and a sable brush.
Then violating the sanctity
of one of his own frames
he'd add a stroke of vermilion
to the skin of a flower.
Just so I stopped you
at the door this morning
and licking my index finger, removed
an invisible crumb
from your vermilion mouth. As if
at the ritual moment of departure
I had to show you still belonged to me.
As if revision were
the purest form of love.