Baudelaire’s Pillared Temple

Nancy Naomi Carlson Click to

ncarlson-13Nancy Naomi Carlson is the prize-winning author of two chapbooks and one collection of poetry. Her work has appeared or is forthcoming in such journals as AGNI, The Georgia Review and The Southern Review. She is an associate editor of Tupelo Press and an instructor at the Bethesda Writer’s Center.

Perfumes, hues, and sounds echo one another.

Nature as pillared temple – I’ll go along,
even accept that columns speak,
though the words are mumbled, muted.

Yes to perfumes mellow as oboes – maybe malachite-blue? –
or perfumes depraved as horns, yellow as tamarind wood.

Crimson for Sousa’s brass and shine,
and for Bessie Smith, scales of hues ascending violet to red
with chromatic half-tones: yellow-orange, chartreuse.

Consider a red-brick church in New Orleans
that barely stands, flood line ten feet high.
A boy with a cello cracked at the bridge
stares at heat rising to stained glass boarded shut.

If I paint this scene in oils, viscous as pitch,
can I make the rosin sing?

If light travels faster than sound,
can I measure the cost of a blink?


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