I Saw Three Cities



(An ekphrastic poem on the painting

"I Saw Three Cities" by Kay Sage)


Wind whips a clinging fabric

around the orange pole of the self

sunlight scours the simple plaza

propping up pointy triangles

that support the sky

in the middle distance

fragments of three cities appear

in the foreground

the final step forward

into the kingdom of dreams


Geometry gives birth to ruins

nascent mountains peek

above the horizon

a woman’s scent lingers

on the desert floor

no one occupies

the space but the dreamer

no one dreams this space

but the painter wrapped

in her wrinkled sighs

wrapped in the realm of sharp shadows

she treks ahead

the path ending abruptly

at her feet the way haunted by absence

empty of direction purpose or hope

full of airy cities clustered

on the preternaturally flat floor


I would join her

but the pole’s flying fabric

smothers my dreams

drives me into the triangle’s point

into the figure of my dark night

void of any dictatorial light

only exile awaits

I see three cities in the cloudless sky

none offers shelter succor

or the consolation of art

I peer back over my shoulder

on the lonely way home

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