“…has created the type of autonomous picture, which leads, without motifs from nature to
a completely abstract life form…as a Bach fugue is from a carpet.”––Paul Klee
Stepping off the door lintel, down onto the grass as the day closed around us, grass, rising up inside its own squared green,––she walked backwards, walked backwards, slow full length of the long lawn to the blue Volkswagen Bug, waved and folded herself inside where her husband and two children waited. No smell or sound in memory’s stranded interior. I don’t think she smiled. Mouth closed, hair loose, hands open, facing mother and me. Nothing else is moving and the sky is so far, so far an abstract irrelevance. I stared and stared back for as many years as I could stand, her escaping face in its stages of flowering and deflowering from the frame, since it was the last time time afforded us her face, its pale proof and myth, its core of rain held off from the picture now black and white beneath us and that full body of trees remaining years into spine and thigh, into skull, into the lungs, hair flickering out like reversed candlelight in the river stir, rain kicking itself back in radio static and dragged chair, her father’s, my father’s lynched cough down the hall. She told mother at the beach that she saw herself buried in a dream in the water years before, her children like pendulums hung from the singing mast of her own voice. She would go out alone to a class and wedding, the sky bearing its impatient weight over her and everything that could be named there. In its random order the rain would then come that night, hard, flooding on a year in a place where rain never reigns or raises cars or shapes a silence in its loud punishment mettle scrawl across its own carnal ambition but would and did and made moan and cage and bad of it.
Elena Karina Byrne, author of Squander (Omnidawn 2016), MASQUE (Tupelo Press, 2008), and The Flammable Bird , (Zoo Press 2002), former 12 year Regional Director of the Poetry Society of America is a freelance teacher, editor, Poetry Consultant / Moderator for The Los Angeles Times Festival of Books, Literary Programs Director for The Ruskin Art Club, and one of the final judges for the Kate/Kingsley Tufts Prizes in poetry.
Her book reviews and poetry publications, among others, include the Pushcart Prize XXXIII, Best American Poetry, Poetry, Paris Review, American Poetry Review, TriQuarterly, The Kenyon Review, Denver Quarterly, Ploughshares, Slate, OmniVerse, Verse, The Academy of American Poets Poem-A-Day, and BOMB. Elena just completed a collection of essays entitled, Voyeur Hour: Meditations on Poetry, Art & Desire.