Lyle Daggett: period rooms


                        period rooms

                                                outside the high windows
                                                                    of the art museum
                                            the tree-size rock sculptures
                                                              twist upward through the air,
                                                an almost liquid movement,
                                        rock protrusions reaching
                                                                toward each other
                                            as if with intent, a movement
                                                      of arms or hands.

                                              gray mist on green grass.
                                                                    the sidewalks damp.
                                          a half-dozen people strolling
                                                toward the entrance by the parking lot.
                                        an unfolding screen, a scroll unrolled
                                                      behind glass —
                                            the cloud-eaten hills
                                                                    brushed in pale black ink,
                                          lone figure standing on porch by water,
                                                boatman pushing boat
                                                                              with long pole,
                                        overhanging trees swaying
                                                                      with terraced leaves,
                                        the river bending away
                                                  into a sea of emptiness —

                                        in the cool air of the atrium
                                            water trickles over a marble fountain.
                                      a dozen people waiting in line
                                                                  for the traveling exhibit.
                                        light opens in an ancient face, body
                                      and background lined and grained
                                                in brown and earth, the wear
                                          and gravity of a life given over
                                                                  to debt and commerce.
                                      the eyes gaze out from the self-portrait
                                        pulling downward
                                                    toward the root of the world,
                                              weighing and measuring.
                                            the tour group gathers around
                                          the museum guide, she stands

                                          near a potted plant, gestures
                                              toward an interior scene
                                                             toned in browns.
                                            bronze music glows
                                                                          from the white walls.

                                                  through a door, the walls checkered
                                          with small gray rectangles,
                                                faded shades of early photographs —
                                            but not photographs:
                                                                      sketches and etchings
                                            drawn in gray, detailed in gray,
                                            view of river and buildings, men
                                              gathered near a doorway,
                                                             a sighing ancient woman’s face —
                                          green air in the windows, plum blossoms
                                              clinging in pale light, old man
                                            bent carrying a bundle of wood
                                                                            across a foot bridge,
                                            mountain veiled in falling snow.

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