The sky is milk
in a late Corot at the Beaux Arts.
Khaki and mustard reeds
fringe a cackling stream.
A peasant with a basket in her arms
walks out of wetlands that part for her.
When the sun comes out,
the volume of the crowd appears to rise
as if light were sounded.
It scours the stone,
ladders netting, peels and blisters
paint, in archeological strata,
from turn-of-the-century window frames.
The dimness of the glass museum prevents
a concatenation of refractions
from leaching the corals and turquoises
of goblets and trays,
the green cast of vitrines, into the yard,
of honeycombed sixties gothic
congregate in the outermost
the age of the railway rumbling
under the hiss of the intercity. At Croisset,
dead-end couplings. A garden house vitrine
of manuscript, pipe, pince-nez,
snuff tin, slipper, a thimbleful
of lapis lazuli. Or none
of these. One of the bonhomous, faintly
intolerant letters to Louise Colet.
Squares of coloured light reconfigure
as the towers communicate
amongst themselves. The lawn is brilliant
but dimensionless as you turn
from a painting to an open doorway.
The sky clears as we dock. Don’t wave.