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after Robert Adams’s California: Views
No sky a gray backdrop merely and absence
and below: the scraggle of dusty fronds, the scrub oak and scrub jay
whose abrasive noises sharpen in response.
Shadows proliferate in deep furrows no sky above
merely a scrim registering conical thrusts, a heightened flurry &
outlines of branches, the dead ones slowly petering out.
magnificent ruin the cut through the field blasted chaparral
As I understand my job, it is, while suggesting order, to make things appear as much as possible to be the way they are in normal vision.
An unvoiced series of sentences, without articulation,
with gray shapes, formulating a syntax loosening and then tightening from edge to edge.
The frame sets a border down from which a thin straggle hangs at random &
like purposeful intrusion, and so unlike
and the interstate (in the title) missing from the photograph itself
merely a dry riverbed, the density of shadows trapped in the confusion
of bush and bush-like tree
except from higher up than the rest, its thin trunk arched against
colorless, less often remarked upon, appositely emotionless these days,
a relic, like the fan palm living at the edges of water.
Martha Ronk is the author of eleven books of poetry, Glass Grapes and other stories, and a food-biography, Displeasures of the Table. Her most recent books include Ocular Proof 2016, on photography, and Transfer of Qualities, long-listed for the National Book Award in Poetry.
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