Rembrandt’s Light

Luke Johnson Click to read more...

ljohnson-193Luke Johnson is the author of the poetry collection After the Ark (New York Quarterly Books, 2011). His poems have recently appeared in New England Review, Poetry Daily, The Southern Review, The Threepenny Review, and elsewhere. He is a graduate of the writing program at Hollins University.

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We’re crossing Depression Era bridges

and she is becoming more beautiful,

driving with both hands on the wheel

as we head inland: away from saltwater eddies

where every few months an empty row boat

falls victim to the current, recirculates

against the rocky shore for weeks

before splintering its wooden hull

on the land’s dull and uncompromising teeth.

Rembrandt’s light always came from the left.

He painted and hoped the canvas would keep

his shadows, the eye drawn to where the flesh

was softest and the most tired: just beneath

the eyes where we keep our hurt and our joy,

where we seldom touch for how easily

the thin skin can bruise. Evergreens

invite us to agree on beauty. The fenced-off pier

begs for passengers. She says the light

is bleeding from the clouds. The pavement,

the undersides of leaves: every darkness shining.

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