Vox Populi

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Daniel Tobin: The Lens

Into the wreck an available light
reigns down, more mist than glitter,
a soft day’s mediation of air and earth
framed inside this photograph’s bright-limned
severance of the moment from its moment.
It might be the finest glaze of wax melting
the way the sky’s ablution has nestled in the hold
to make the engines, long dead, look painterly.
Their green is the green of cathedral frescos
when the smoke of prayer candles hazes
them with ash. And here, too, is a candle’s
chiaroscuro, hung with necessary blackness
above the floor-soldered pistons and drums,
that metal stanchion like a toppled column
frozen mid-fall. Is it this gorgeously stilled
ochre wash of rust that seems to fill the hull’s
sheer chamber with the leaf-blood of infinite
autumns, or the water-charred walls braced
against the limestone ledge where the sea
cast up the bulk? Either way, it is you I see
lowering your body to measure the scene,
your hair long, the sheen on a crow’s wing,
cropped now and silver like the limestone, foam
and samphire at your feet, and in your hand the lens.

Copyright 2023 Daniel Tobin

Daniel Tobin‘s many books include Blood Labors (Four Way Books, 2018). He teaches at Emerson College in Boston.

Daniel Tobin

10 comments on “Daniel Tobin: The Lens

  1. Loranneke
    March 28, 2023

    Ah the exacting, difficult and challenging art of description: well done, friend!


  2. edisonmarshalljenningsgmailcom
    March 28, 2023

    Also a nod to Adriene Rich.


    • Vox Populi
      March 28, 2023

      Yes, although the two poems have very different voices, don’t you think?



      • edisonmarshalljenningsgmailcom
        March 28, 2023

        Yes, Tobin’s poem isn’t nearly as abstracted or politically urgent as Rich’s poem–there is no transformation of the voice in Tobin’s poem whereas Rich’s diver undergoes a metamorphisis.


  3. edisonmarshalljenningsgmailcom
    March 28, 2023

    Stunning, mysterious.


  4. edisonmarshalljenningsgmailcom
    March 28, 2023

    Love this.


  5. Sean Sexton
    March 28, 2023

    Tautly braided and fine, like a nylon whip-popper without which the body only “cracks” dully no matter the holding hand.
    Very fine indeed.


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This entry was posted on March 28, 2023 by in Art and Cinema, Environmentalism, Poetry and tagged , , , .

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