–Rothko’s Street Scene
Perhaps he still had crumbs
on his lips, his collar, his lap
when he unzipped. Perhaps
he was still bound in half-sleep,
looking back at his memory
pressed into the mattress.
Perhaps the streetlamp’s inquisition
through the open window
persuaded the cracker-mattress
skyscraper to press its bald head
flat against the frame or the woman
horrified by its sight to boil
in her own skin, a red almost too orange,
crabs dumped across the Sunday news.
No one else is hungry or horny here.
The brown stripe of a man wedges
into a breezeway. A granddaughter,
her dress a swarm of chips clipped
from the thumb-moon, legs simmering
from ankle to shin to knee,
cooling to pink at the hemline,
her arm outstretched, elbowless,
impeding her grandmother’s path.
Rothko said he was no colorist
and a painting is not an experience.
Don’t be coy. Make me believe in this innocence
of nothing, the not-story of our lives.