White on White Aubade

By John Poch

The horsehair somewhat white below his thumb,
the gessoed canvas primed: the start is rough.

Malevich couldn’t get it white enough.
He dabbed the brush in his titanium

the color of a white geranium
toward an off-white that tailors might make weddings of.

The well-pleased Father setting down his Dove,
so much descending on the faultless Son.

The starving polar bear devours his young
and proves that nature’s taste is tough.

The poet holds his writer’s block above
the page, a precious emptiness, that hum.

He thinks of love’s annihilation, how one
plus one is zero, how the purists scoff

at innocence within the whitest glove,
the fingernail of moon opposed to sun,

how Cupid’s blindfold, handcuffs, Match.com
impair each pair and turn us on and off.

In Russian cold, the pallor of a winter cough
might make one think of Stalin, or Mandelstam—

his epigram as harmless as the stuff
of cotton in a pregnant Molotov.

The way that like will never rhyme with love
is opposite the push that comes to shove.

The push has cause, like Love demanding from
the lovers laying down their lives to come

to nothing on a bed. A sheet upon
a sheet can cover them before the sun.