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The silhouettes of birds above the blue light of the cloud envelope.
A mountaintop island, a boat, animals deboarding,
among them a grinning creature, spine-like hair raised across its back, its mate beside it.
Geese drifting away.

Patches of the wheat-colored panel, its wood,
emerge through the blue intaglio of the foreground
into which the creatures walk,
following a switchback across the surface of the panel,

leading us to the bodies of the drowned, who grip the earth,
a dead canine body, a huntsman beside it,
in the entrance of a small cave, two human bodies,
others clinging to fallen trees.

At the base of the painting, closest to us,
the bodies of a mother and child lie in a depression.
Light on the mother’s face, she appears to sleep.
In her arms across her lap, her tightly swaddled child, asleep with her.



Peter Streckfus is the author of the poetry collections Errings (Fordham) and The Cuckoo (Yale). He is on the poetry faculties of George Mason University and the Pan-European MFA at Cedar Crest College.




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