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Summer Studio

It was a white wooden building two stories tall - two long, high-ceilinged rooms, one on each floor, topped by a flat tarpaper roof that sloped toward the back of the property.

Where I grew up, such structures were called 'storefront buildings.' Surrounded by elms and maples, it stood a block west of the courthouse, on the northwest corner, facing east. Originally it had been a lodge hall. During the Depression years, the members of the lodge had gradually died off, and the building stood empty until one of my relatives, an uncle who was an artist, acquired it, a few years before the war, and had it fixed up as a studio.

My parents drove us down to this place to visit the artist's widow in the late 1940s. The town and the building were always the same. There were no sidewalks. My father parked at the edge of the lot. Out front, rising from its square of stone, was the cast-iron pump with the curved handle. Here we would drink cold water from our cupped hands, and refresh ourselves, each time we came to visit.

If the light slanting beneath the canopy of trees seems clear and steady now, it is not simply because I look back on that vanished building through a scrim of fifty years, so that all the wrinkles and irregularities have been smoothed out. We forget not only what certain trees mean to a landscape, to the profile they give to a town; we forget even the quality of light filtering down through their leaves and branches.

One kind of illumination reaches down when you are a small child playing beneath the limbs of a catalpa tree; another kind settles over you at the base of a willow, or a shagbark hickory. Later, it is almost as though hidden voices had been speaking to you, pointing out certain shadows and profiles - the outlines of small, undiscovered things, the shapes of beetles and lost marbles and blades of grass.

I say this because I know there were elms reaching over the summer studio, and I know they are gone now, all of them. But their handling of the light remains unchanged.
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Summer Studio
Wednesday, April 12, 2017
Topic(s) of this poem: america,remembrance,art
Daniel Brick 12 April 2017

I KNOW this place. I've been there many times, and each time it feels more intimate, more a part of my soul. bit it grieves my heart to know that even this place which brings out the good in all of us is subject to change, then decay, finally collapse. But that is the way of the world. And everything we cherish is really flesh, it cannot last, it cannot prevail. But flesh illumined by light! ! Flesh united with light! ! That's the imaginative merger your poem makes possible. And your prose poem makes me feel the truth of what Rilke said: EVERYWHERE TRANSIENCE PLUNGES INTO DEEP BEING.

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