Beth Cooley

She stands beyond this gulf of greedy pilgrims
washed in alien voices. Born not of the sea,
as her sister rising on wave and cockle shell,
but of blue air, harbingered by winds.
Lightly on the earth she rests. Her pale
feet hardly test the verdant grass or cast
a shadow on the scattered petals.

Sprung from dark pigment and boar brush,
like blossoms conjured from winter wood,
her eyes ask only what we seek
across the chattering crowds, on the gallery’s
far shore. All the while we try to read
what we desire in those pale eyes. They meet
the stranger’s gaze unabashed, as they met
the painter’s years ago.

Not beauty, nor some grand ideal scratched
on vellum scrolls stored in palatial cupboards.
Not truth. It isn’t there. And yet we won’t resign
our hunger to articulate what we can
only taste in lucid air. She shows us
what our longing can not name. She is just
that which we can never say.