Monday Blues: Piecing Things Together

PiecingThingsTogether“The Stained-Glass Maker

Whole days he spends
searching out materials-ambers
and greens locked in bottles,
lucky burgundy of a broken taillight-

each piece charged with tangled
fissures that pull intensity
to themselves, blues rupturing

to deeper blue. Other mornings,
like this one, he drops
to the pavement his finds-a crash
the neighbors have had to relearn

as one of creation. Then he bends
as though divining futures
in what looks like a fauvist

cloud fringed with lavender,
edged with unusable dust,
tinted splinters of shining.
I try to hold in speech

the shapes-abrupt wedges of salmon,
trapezoidal chips glinting
against each other-but how to seize

in words this amorphous spread of glitter
that catches your breath in whirls
of sheen rich and varied as music
ripped apart and pieced back together?

Memory holds to me a gnarled
shaft, the length of a javelin,
crumbling in museum fluorescents-

lightning fossilized where it tunneled
through a beach, scorching
sand to glass. I thought it impossible
to sleeve the path of light,

but here was this continuous record
of the dazzling. In the same way,
I try to catch the luminous patterns,

though I know I’ll be left not
with the mythical flash of inspiration
but a fractured column, paled
in description, a reference for where light

once was, though the last of it
was spent on the thrill of the making,
the gradual solidification of detail,

mysterious as any birth. By twilight,
the glass is shaped to souls striding
on waves of color, speaking light
over a crackling city of gold-

all held together by seams of solder
so thick it’s the brokenness,
if anything, that makes it worthy

of attention-his windows hold back
as much as they let through.
On the corner, now, his hunched profile
is the absence of sky. That’s how it is

when you glean the curbs, when you
search out shards of light in this slow
work of piecing things together.”

Stephen Cramer

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