The Painter

By Duane Niatum

for Charles Krafft

As salmon awaken to the pulsing dawn,
he hears night heron farther down the Skagit River.

The grey sky turning to white spirals
calls winter one word blessed with distance.

In the dark, his home rests in echoing waves.
White blossoms cover willow, woodpile, the path.

Desire leads him back to his cabin in Fishtown,
to stir his morning coffee and the struggle with brushes.

From the window he watches each falling flake
enter the landscape of his gut,

give a little order to his dreams.
He sees the light begin its move toward spring

and he aims to turn that movement into art.
To fail in this dance is still to live in the wolf’s jaws.

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