Time rattles at our window/Time trying to get in.
– Minnie Bruce Pratt
You told time by the sun when you worked
En plein air you were your own challenger
Then adhering to your set-up rituals
The unzippering of the case of oil-
Pastels the unfolding of the easel
The tying it to a filled gallon jug
Lest wind pick up by the side of the road
Or else by the bridge over the Maumee
There in Sidecut Park off the main highway
After balancing the board on your lap
You’d stake out hours on the bench
On the bank to let the current or the leaves
Or your divine selfishness lead you
The sharpening light of evening always best.
I want to climb that the young woman announced
After she pulled off the road to take in
The smokestack of the abandoned Acme
Steam Plant rising magenta and orange
From your canvas—so now I know no place
Is too incongruous for love or sex
How the relentless rust of this region
Its nuclear plant slag heaps piles of salt
Dotting the industrial corridor
Between our towns could be worthy of love.
It was all you ever wanted you told me
In the mauve twilight of the nursing home
Where I rushed every blessed chance I could
And when “draw” was all you could say
You took the marker from me and moved it
In permanent black lines across the white
Board and what started as a star became
A compass a clock something to parse
A lifetime with—a mechanical flower
That would collapse and devour you at last
Alone and afraid and me not there beside you.
“I Want to Climb That,” Neil Paul Frankenhauser (1939-2019)
Terry Bohnhorst Blackhawk is the author of three chapbooks and five full-length poetry collections, with numerous publications and awards that include half a dozen Pushcart Prize nominations and the 2010 Pablo Neruda Prize from Nimrod International. Her first full-length collection, body & field (Michigan State Press, 1999), was a finalist in several first book contests, and Molly Peacock selected her second collection, Escape Artist (BkMk Press) for the 2003 John Ciardi Prize. Her fifth collection, One Less River (Mayapple Press), was named a Best 2019 Poetry Title by Kirkus Reviews. A Kresge Arts in Detroit Literary Fellow and retired Founding Director (1995-2015) of Detroit’s InsideOut Literary Arts Project, she divides her time between Detroit and her family in Connecticut.