Dazzling Marble Dust - Poem by Sonny Rainshine
After the war
(it is immaterial which one)
painters who work in oils
would often search the bombed-out rubble
for chunks of marble,
which they would surreptitiously
transport back to their studios.
Painstakingly, they would
chip away the edges of the remnants
and pound the smaller pieces
into a fine residue,
a silvery, shimmery dust
that sparkled in the direct sunlight
of the levered windows
in their garrets.
Next they would mix a defined portion
of the marble dust with the white gesso
that they used to prime their canvases.
The final effect was to give the undercoat
of the painting they were working on
an ethereal luminosity that flickered underneath
the thinner coats of paint
much as flecks of quartz
cause a city sidewalk to gleam
in the sunlight.
It seems likely
that artists who used this tedious,
time consuming method must have
understood the hidden significance
of this almost ritualistic process,
reminiscent of the Japanese tea ceremony.
Not only did they honor the tradition
of their craft, but also captured
a memorial of annihilation
and the horror and disruption of war
and incorporated it into their art
for it there to shine
as long as the painting survives.
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