___ Habakkuk 2:18–20, 3:17–19
By inadequacies of word, of form
I have reached for you; I have approached
though I am spoken, and shaped; there is no
word I can say, nothing I can make.
I swim in expanses of your intent;
slants of light edge the boreal forests,
a seed drifts above the granite canyons;
all things translucent, transferable,
even our despair; the antiseptic mists
and fluorescent corridors, the unending
flickering, labyrinths of emptiness,
the immense canvases of your silence;
all of history like a toppled cairn,
a few pebbles beside the topaz streams
of your great and unwavering restraint—
Speak, damn you! Will you not speak?
So beseeched Donatello of the stone
but the stone did not speak, not this time,
yet his hands still moved, scored with scars from youth,
then calloused by the years of mastery,
when his touch turned precise, his hands light
above the marble, until they hovered
and glided, as if guided by something
unseen, beckoning the shape to beauty.
The Image archive is supported in part by an award from the National Endowment for the Arts.