Wednesday, January 19, 2011


Into the Woods, Summer, by Howard Hodgkin
Metropolitan Museum of Art

Hallaj said what he said and went to the origin
through the hole in the scaffold.
I cut a cap's worth of cloth from his robe,
and it swamped over me from head to foot.
Years ago, I broke a bunch of roses
from the top of his wall. A thorn from that
is still in my palm, working deeper.
A person comes to him naked. It's cold.
There's a fur coat floating in the river.
Jump in and get it, he says.
You dive in. You reach for the coat.
It reaches for you.
It's a live bear that has fallen in upstream,
drifting with the current.
How long does it take? Hallaj yells from the bank.
Don't wait, you answer. This coat
has decided to wear me home.

A little part of a story, a hint.
Do you need long sermons on Hallaj?