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Rublev, the great painter of icons,

    is buried under one of his own churches;

infinity stretches in all directions. Under

                      the bricks, he hears the carriages move.

Visitors from countries stand in the square;

            below their feet, the demons pass

back & forth between the worlds . . .

The icon watches as they are struck dumb

            by the brown facility of paint.

Color has lost its innocence.

            Russia is an enormous plain

                        over which wild energy rides.

            Christ looks sickly & helpful,

raising two fingers. His eyes have apostrophes,

cloves of garlic. An artist is never your enemy.

How to interpret the painting through

    circles of violence that made it. It moves

                      much more slowly than you do;

it always has something to conceal.

  A painting shows you how to breathe.

                      History is still: it’s the wood horse

burning on its side. A dome

sacrifices itself to a bell; its ringing

    swells & falls, a maybe yes

                      & maybe no that follows you-

Very Far Back in This Life

Brenda Hillman

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