Clare Rossini

January 22, 2020 Rossini Clare

Against the mauve wall, a Flegel
so pristine,
so guarded against spoilage
that, feeling a cough coming on, I have to walk away,
take in the Holderlin, the Vermeer, nod
to the drowsing guard. Then back to
the split lemon, its wet yellow flesh.
The small roasted bird
on a pewter plate.
And the goblet, light ghosting its rim as it curves,
vanishing toward
some anterior dark
not even Flegel could render. But there’s
the living bird perched
on the painting’s crusty boule—
the signage says it’s a titmouse.
Through clouds of varnish,
its eye pierces mine. I pause.
Something passes between us.
It’s time
to get down those big marble stairs,
push open the heavy brass door, find myself
in the cold March wind, school kids
yelling on the sidewalk. The hot dog guy
hunched by his cart, blowing on his hands.
What I see first—really see—
is the can of trash, its overflow
studded with bright yellow
wrappers. The wad of Daily News,
a plank of dove gray. And the umbrella—
one of those cheap ones you get on the street,
they never last more than one bad rain—
light catches
on its crushed spindly ribs.
The ripped black cloth caught in wind,
flapping. Now suddenly still.

Clare Rossini’s third collection, Lingowas published by University of Akron Press. Her poems and essays have appeared in such venues as The Paris Review, The Kenyon Review,  Ploughshares, Poetry, and the Best American Poetry series. The Poetry of Capital, an anthology Rossini co-edited, was published by the University of Wisconsin Press in 2021.  After forty-plus years of college teaching, she has just retired as Artist-in-Residence in the English Department at Trinity College.