The Work of Art

— Elaine Sexton

And here I am—an oil on the edge of
no place
—night, or the edge of it,

a green that is always about to be
black—more trees, less light. And

the light of what sky there is—
glooms—and is almost always about

to go out. Here, a red horse marries
petrol in a sign where mythology

meets commerce. All this attention
to the sign lets the singleton by

the pumps and the road disappear.
Disappearance is both carriage and

parcel. Here is the feel, how wordlessness
finds its way—where my ear is pressed

to the present, my actual ear on
the literal pavement, on a country road,

here is where my seven-year-old face
prints experience on her skin, not

entirely smooth, but not rutted either.
Experience, so far and so deep, the past

is the dirt that isn’t really dirt, and
gravel that isn’t really rubberized

asphalt, but all that remains, pulverized,
a substance, a lesson in how roads

get made. Even in high season
some travelers will never find

this route, this short cut to the sea
(or me), or feel traffic

before seeing it, lying, flat, in a road,
the small in a small town, the edge

of this curious half-dream, half-
of somewhere to be

and nowhere to go.

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