Arthur Dove,Red Sun, 1935 Oil on canvas 20 1/4 x 28 in The Phillips Collection, Washington D.C. , found at oseculoprodigioso.blogspot.com
This is the painting on the cover of Robert Hass’ book of poetry, Sun Under Wood.
Now the rain is falling, freshly, in the intervals between sunlight,
a Pacific squall started no one knows where, drawn east as the drifts of warm air make a channel;
it moves its own way, like water or the mind,
and spills this rain passing over. The Sierras will catch it as last snow flurries before summer, observed only by the wakened marmots at ten thousand feet,
and we will come across it again as larkspur and penstemon sprouting along a creek above Sonora Pass next August,
where the snowmelt will have trickled into Dead Man’s Creek and the creek spilled into the Stanislaus and the Stanislaus into the San Joaquin and the San Joaquin into the slow salt marshes of the bay.
That’s not the end of it: the gray jays of the mountains eat larkspur seeds, which cannot propagate otherwise.
To simulate the process, you have to soak gathered seeds all night in the acids of coffee
and score them gently with a very sharp knife before you plant them in the garden.
You might use what was left of the coffee we drank in Lisa’s kitchen visiting.
There were orange poppies on the table in a clear glass vase, stained near the bottom to the color of sunrise;
the unstated theme was the blessedness of gathering and the blessing of dispersal—
it made you glad for beauty like that, casual and intense, lasting as long as the poppies last.
On the morning of the Käthe Kollwitz exhibit, a young man and woman come into the museum restaurant. She is carrying a baby; he carries the air-freight edition of the Sunday New York Times. She sits in a high-backed wicker chair, cradling the infant in her arms. He fills a tray with fresh fruit, rolls, and coffee in white cups and brings it to the table. His hair is tousled, her eyes are puffy. They look like they were thrown down into sleep and then yanked out of it like divers coming up for air. He holds the baby. She drinks coffee, scans the front page, butters a roll and eats it in their little corner in the sun. After a while, she holds the baby. He reads the Book Review and eats some fruit. Then he holds the baby while she finds the section of the paper she wants and eats fruit and smokes. They’ve hardly exchanged a look. Meanwhile, I have fallen in love with this equitable arrangement, and with the baby who cooperates by sleeping. All around them are faces Käthe Kollwitz carved in wood of people with no talent or capacity for suffering who are suffering the numbest kinds of pain: hunger, helpless terror. But this young couple is reading the Sunday paper in the sun, the baby is sleeping, the green has begun to emerge from the rind of the cantaloupe, and everything seems possible.