“What are the roots that clutch, what branches grow
Out of this stony rubbish?”
The Waste Land
By Marne Kilates
Let’s see. The artist cannot untangle
His brain from the pen or brush he is holding.
He must etch or cut his lines and curves,
Every bit and crumb and flake and speck
Must be incised into the material or
Fabric of his art by his own will and making.
The particles of his imagination cannot
Decohere from those of his creation.
Take this dry intaglio of what maybe
A throbbing ficus, almost like the burning
Bush in the desert. whose adventitious
Roots have become branches, the branches
Become roots, each sending curls of buds
And leaves into the thin air, the arms
And limbs of the gnarled trunks
Swarming like green flies or maggots,
Or desiccated twigs and fingers, you
Can hear the hum and murmur of bugs
And roaches, feverish antennae sniffing,
Wriggling, famished, omnivorous:
And after poking and scrounging in the dirt
(The rubble and sod of garden or aquifer,
Where ghosts writhe and gasp even in death),
The tendrils have now surfaced as hands―
Disembodied, but eternally entangled
In the artist’s cosmic coherence―and they
Can only clutch at the empty ether.
January 29, 2022
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