For Connie Fox and William King
Everyone arrives later than everyone else,
taller than expected, the gossip anthropological
in nature, turning clockwise. Stubborn,
the art doesn't seem to mind being the center
of its own attention. Death remains in fashion,
while delight appears to be making a comeback.
Art, the conversation claims, is: "an assault on time,"
"a currency of doubt and opportunity," "a cease-fire
with calamity." Uninvited, it keeps on coming,
its mouth filled with intuition, such lovely feathers.
Ah, the white fluorescent walls, the landscapes grateful
to have survived their own stillness. Everyone seems
to want something, dogma, truth, a context, politics
is not out of the question, but passion twists the ephemeral
into perception, urges the phenomenal to confront
the merely mysterious. You know what I mean — all that
endless standing, stepping back, squinting, sighing, doing
and undoing, the middle torn out of its own beginning,
the pleading to be finished, finally, the fiery binge and hoist
of the impossible ingested, flattened to nothing, the honed figure
walking out the door, alone under the night's vast umbrella,
the hat complaining to the rectangle about its lack of grammar,
the hilarious despair of the square, the aluminum shiver longing
for the simplicity of the lowly nut and bolt, canvas stretched
across infinity, the disappointments, unbearable happiness,
beckoning for the feast to begin.
Philip Schultz lives in East Hampton. This poem for Connie Fox, the Abstract Expressionist painter who died here in June at the age of 98, previously appeared in Mr. Schultz's "The God of Loneliness: Selected and New Poems." The sculptor William King, Ms. Fox's husband, died in 2015.