Leveler Poetry Journal
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Ocean Park

 after Richard Diebenkorn


It is the light coming through a window,

through several windows in a room where I am standing.

It is the light in Ocean Park, a park

by the ocean or a park that’s made of ocean.

It is the particular way the sand catches the light

and the way the waves change the light

with the different ways they move: first one light

then another, light falling on something rough or smooth.

It is the light over the dunes and behind the dunes

and on each curve of the dunes and on the cliffs

that I imagine loom over Ocean Park.

It is the light shining through the foliage of the park

as it moves before the window in the wind. No,

it is a wash of green with gold coming through.

It is the light of each hour of the day

in one room full of windows for thirty years—

can you imagine?—but it is not what Monet did.

This light doesn’t change a cathedral

or anything else. It is itself. It is light

cut up and put back together, the way a prism

or water or sky can do, yet not like that:

This light is stitched together with black lines.

Can I stand before this pink and say morning,

this wash of blue and say afternoon,

this orange and say only orange?

Can I stand in the room where he was standing

when he painted all this canvas filling

the gallery around me now like windows,

but not windows, though I can’t help but try

and make them like. They resist the mind.

They do not represent. But words, words—

no matter how you cut them, they cannot

not mean. You cannot just stand

in them. They are made of meaning.

They cannot be unmeaned.

Katie Herman