One eighth of an inch across –
one pedal of the yellow field.
Or each with a green strap narrower
than a hospital bracelet, sedges
raise the height of a marsh.
The entire estuary could leak
drop by drop through cupped hands,
egret's beak, or a shed's mossy roof as rain.
Beyond, grain by grain,
subjewelry, the sand –
rock in note form.
On the cliff top, thrift: “dense terminal head
on naked stock.” Or “naked foot stocking” the sea's chamber?
And poppies: “colorless. Colorless” –?
No, carotid, perilous, couldn't be less
Jag by jag
the poison hemlock's leaves. Then bulrushes’
as nested redwings scare.
A blackbird is flying into a heron's tail –
plucking and punching, it bides
there for a second
of a second, pulling a quill or,
deeper; in hind-flesh,
and the heron does not fly
or swing around, but bears
its eye lonelier,
steps in a glide
from shallows to shore
to wear the helm goose of a flock
lowers its neck
in a curl of rejection
And the million barbules
of the Great Blue vanish
into a summer fog of panicles,
gold-green, gray-lavender spikelets
of tufted hairgrass, spreading lovegrass.
Woman, this is the landscape all through which
you have left your sight,
your sight you have dropped is a car
came rushing toward you, your flawed mediums
to which you paired binoculars;
your wet living lenses trained
above each nasturtium (close your eyes,
you get a morning glory),
your sight with which you measured creek depth
through dark glasses, your vision you
broke to shoals of smashed cast-up at the strandline.
All through these floating you have left
your invisible seeing
that counted seventy-four fishing boats,
thirty-five brown pelicans,
seventy kites on one string,
sixty-five pocket keepsakes from the sea.
is transported with the sand
from beach to beach, deposited in an ocean canyon
no one has ever seen, where privacy you can hear
the panoramic sounds break down:
the lisping bubbles
flying fly apart, pods chatter
in the yellow lupine, the snake your foot tips off
escape, the heron silence –
Then you hear Mr. Begley's voice,
each little botanical correction.
“I am a painter,” he says.
Certainly he has known the landscape
by the eighth-inch. Skunkweed's pomander
is caught on his fly-line. Socrates
is dying in his umbelliferae. And
everything immediate to him is small: bees carry
landscape on them, birds drop it
from the air; filaree
miniaturizes war; damselfly hovers
gratified as a needle over a new scene
or a tearing about to mend.
Little pimpernel hotspots,
hatched and housecleaned cliff swallows' eggs
blood spattered as a man's bad shave,
dunegrasses' hlaf-circle sweeps
sanding away woodgrain of homes.
Antique ink on butterflies.
“Because I paint,” Mr. Begley said. Good for him –
I have no excuse for looking.