Clark Chatlain


in the foreground of the painting
before or beneath

the autumn’s aspens
now yellow but still past yellow, not yet orange this early
some grass of autumn seems almost to wave.

that is the danger of painting the Front with aspens. there is always wind. especially

in aspens.

the foreground is my hands before me on the table. my mother’s hands, too.
she thinks this place might be Molly’s Nipple. (she has that sense of humor.)
I am always struck by the gilded frame. what
does it frame?
whose painting is this? on our wall?

I have no memory of this place

but I can make one. manufacture one.
safely, too.
see these aspens as they shimmer in the wind? there,
in the frame of the bay window?
this might be the window in the cab of my grandpa’s truck. thirty years ago.
a high-power wedged between us.
beyond these aspens there is an old cabin hunters use in autumn (now).
the men drink. play cards (then).
now the wind blows through it. between gray planks and
flaking logs.
the wind that shimmers the aspens in the bay window and
those below Molly’s Nipple.
I sit and watch the painting. outside, there is wind but not
wind like on the Front.
though it almost dies, something shimmers in the air before me. a stillness quaking
in the autumn past.

Clark Chatlain has most recently published poems in Burning House Press, Natural Bridge and the anthology Poems Across the Big Sky II. He currently lives and works in Missoula, Montana.


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