Paintings            GARY BARTEN
Mountain Afterimage (Stone Wings)
June 2019
ink, acrylic, and tempera on paper
48" x 37"
The Mountain
by Elizabeth Bishop

At evening, something behind me.
I start for a second. I blench,
or staggeringly halt and burn.
I do not know my age.

In the morning it is different.
An open book confronts me,
too close to read in comfort.
Tell me how old I am.

And then the valleys stuff
impenetrable mists
like cotton in my ears.
I do not know my age.

I do not mean to complain.
They say it is my fault.
Nobody tells me anything.
Tell me how old I am.

The deepest demarcations
can slowly spread and fade
like any blue tattoo.
I do not know my age.

Shadows fall down, lights climb.
Clambering lights, oh children!
you never stay long enough.
Tell me how old I am.

Stone wings have sifted here
with feather hardening feather.
The claws are lost somewhere.
I do not know my age.

I am growing deaf. The birdcalls
Dwindle. The waterfalls
go unwiped. What is my age?
Tell me how old I am.

Let the moon go hang,
the stars go fly their kites.
I want to know my age.
Tell me how old I am.
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