When Light Arrives

By Murray Silverstein

In Monet’s “Branch of the Seine near Giverny,”
a cloud of light on the near-still river,
the rolling green banks, themselves half-real,
half-shapes-on-water; the river itself,
taking its unself-conscious time; Monet, taking his cut
at the river—spread my ashes there,
in that light, that river, and while you’re at it
baptize me too. Awake before dawn
he puts on his boots, the brown felt hat, wool socks
and sweater, and crossing the road
through a mist off the meadow, reaches his spot.
When light arrives, he’s ready, in his floating studio,
moored to the bank, fourteen half-finished canvases
around him, fourteen dawns slowly arriving
on each. Scatter me there, in those mornings,
Monet at work, in those rivers, moving
from each to each, the damp rising through the soles
of his shoes. The deep wants to enter a man,
ask him certain questions—here the palest purple,
here a true black-green: Is every morning
the mind of God or only certain ones?


Murray Silverstein’s poems have appeared in Rattle, Hunger Mountain, West Marin Review, Brooklyn Review, Poetry East, RUNES, Zyzzyva, Nimrod, Spillway and other journals. His first book of poems, Any Old Wolf (Sixteen Rivers Press, 2006), received an Independent Publisher’s award. Also for Sixteen Rivers, he edited the anthology, The Place That Inhabits Us: Poems of the San Francisco Bay Watershed (2010). A practicing architect and co-author of A Pattern Language, Silverstein lives in Oakland, California.

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