Poem — February ’21 — “The Races at Longchamps”

Manet was one of them

Long time sailing, long time training

Staring at the heavy Dutch frame

— images where silver armor suits are set down on dark tables

and old-looking children wisely clutch at serene mothers

And bricks and winter and breadmakers are lit with fine, layered light-

Manet watches the world rushing, then still, then rushing, then smooth

The ship to Rio has him vomiting into a bucket for weeks

He emerges unable to pick a way to go

He sells his paintings of gypsies and tea drinkers

And then goes, drunk, in carriage, to Longchamps

To see the horses absolutely fly

And the wideness of the world is on him

And he’s passive, lustred, the sight is incredible

He goes back to his studio, looks at a Goya, and feels that he

Will never paint anything, really, that frightens or moves or teaches

So he does up a scene from outside

Where people do not gather stately like the Dutch

But carouse at wood’s edge

Or in a field

Or under walnut boughs

And drink their tea with their hats resting on glinting curling chairs

Having stood up to take each other’s hands

In easy conversation

Or to, after eating, dance