Owing Monet

To calculate the measure and shift of light
you must scarifice a lifetime,
to know precisely when
the japonica will unfold
in the afternoon brilliance,
when the water will diamond
and stun the casual acquaintance.

The artist poses in his garden,
watch-eyed as a heron
minding the sun that darts
like lemon-colored fishes,
noting its place at three p.m., predicting, or guessing, its relative tomorrow.
Claude at Giverny,
courting illumination like a jealous lover,
waiting for her to gild, then steal, the lilies.

You check the short patch of lawn
under the fir tress in the morning,
at four, through transient, shuffling seasons,
try to memorize the settling of gold
on earth, the willingness of flowers,
the shadows' relief at abscence.

Gradations require persistence,
a trust in angles and orbit,
faith in a star, and its bloom that will travel
predictably, centuries after it is gone.

Joannie Kervran Stangeland