Eyes, Jim Davis-Rosenthal, 2000.


Unframing a Triptych
Yusef Komunyakaa


One color divides
          into another like the dark
                    eyes of Marie Dumas,

into the Marquis de la
          Pailletérie's night song
                    in the red leached-out

hills of Haiti.
          The watercolorist
                    says how hard it is

to tame a dream's
         wild borders.  Unbelievable
                    feats of their offspring:

three duels in one day,
          thirteen soldiers captured
                    single-handed, "La Légion

Américaine," Eastern
          Pyrénées, Mont Cenis,
                    "Horatius Cocles of the Tyrol"--

the general's blood seethed 
          into the son's prolific pen.
                    Images of D'Artagnan

sprouted from the father
          as if from Zeus's head,
                    & somehow somewhere

when Napoleon said
          "Good Morning, Hercules--
                    you have beaten the hydra,"

he spoke to Alexandre,
          fils, père. The friend
                    of poachers -- 600 glasses

of absinthe won at a bar,
          & creator of Christine,
                    The Three Musketeers,

The Black Tulip--
          Chevalier de Maison
                    Rouge written in sixty-six

hours on a bet. Did gold
          coins  stacked on a table
                    belong to all three,

& which one said what
          to Roger de Beauvoir
                    about his wife, Ida

Ferrier? Whose fingers
          slipped coins into the other's
                    vest pockets? In this

triptych we can't
          untie the fine gestures,
                    can't say where one

line severs another.
          To cut one image 
                    out of the frame

without damaging the rest,
          you must prick a thumb
                    with an Exacto knife

because only blood can
          loosen the glue & secrets
                    holding down this paper.


Text © 1995, 1999 by Yusef Komunyakaa

"Unframing a Tryptich" first appeared in Many Mountains Moving, Volume II, Number 3.

The work appears here by permission of the author.

Original Graphic Image, "Eyes" © 2000 by Jim Davis-Rosenthal

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