The Gallery

By Catherine Pond

This painting doesn’t get any less ugly
the longer I look at it,
but it’s mine. My sadness, my voice
cracked in half,
bright wound around which darkness
arranges itself, like flowers
along the highway—color
at the end of long sadness—
Have you ever walked through years of rooms
of dark canvases
wanting to die?
If so, you know how I feel.
I want to be back in the city,
years from now,
all the dead hearts washed clean by rain.
If I hadn’t spent those six seasons
covered in snow
I wouldn’t recognize the terrible
burst of hope
in a slash of pink paint––
Georgia in summer, the smell of hydrangea
rotting in the sun. Sweet
and punishing.
If I love you the way I love myself,
I will be ruthless.
Rothko said it was his brightest paintings
that indicated deepest grief.
I never was good at letting go.
By now you know
it is raining. By now you know
I have entered
the room.

From Fieldglass (Southern Illinois University Press, 2021). Reprinted with the permission of the author.