Poem/Painting #3: “Quintessence”

9/30/09, 12″ x 12″ x 2 1/4″, mixed media.

Quintessence

There are,
as I reflect
on seasons

and their senses,
and time’s
elusive moments,

particularized
elements that sing —
patterns
of sweet sounds

that suddenly emerge
out of the phonic chaos,
that cause the heart

to skip
its automatic
round of beats,

to jump
from one pulse
to another,

that pass
or are passed by
too quickly

as we move.

One:
the susurra
of the ocean

on the winter beach
when the ice
moon ripples

at the water’s
margin;

two:
the laddered
racket of the birds

in the copper light
before the summer
sun appears;

three: the edge
of wind
that cuts

the trees
that flutter leaves

like endless colored eyelids
when the autumn
sunlight wanes;

four: the surge
of rain
enveloping

the daffodils
that seek

as they are soaked
each spring’s fulfillment

of their destiny.

Yet more

than these:

the crowded quiet

of midnight darkness,
broken

by the sudden sob of
“daddy, come!”

— in a tiny voice
that summons
from the deepest dreams —

and the blurry calm
sunk into stillness
of his evened breathing

back within his sleep
when soothed,

although
he doesn’t know

he feels my fingertips
across his cheek.

– Ori Soltes

About the Poem/Paintings Series
When I want to begin a new body of work, I begin to think in terms of a series. In 2008 I decided I would like to find a group of poems which would be strongly visual like the poems of Wallace Stevens. I asked Ori if he knew any poets because his work touches me in two ways: he teaches art, but he is also a scholar in Jewish history and texts. He suggested that he himself had written a series of poems over the years, which he then sent me. I saw that they could be very visually stimulating, so it began . . .

About Ori Soltes
He is a Goldman Professorial lecturer in Theology and Art at Georgetown University. He has written nearly 250 books, articles, and catalog essays.

He currently teaches theology, philosophy and art history at Georgetown University. He has also taught across diverse disciplines for many years at The Johns Hopkins University, Cleveland State University, Case Western Reserve University, Siegel College in Cleveland, and other colleges and universities.