Claude Glass

Landscape with Flaying of Marsyas, Claude Lorrain

And when Enlightenment fails there’s a tool
small enough to fit in your inside pocket
on a tour of the Alps or the Outer Hebrides,
smooth as a lady’s compact, slightly curved,
filled with the mineral powder of darkness
that dims the excesses of subjectivity,
blots Romantic tears, contracts a view
into the palm of the hand, keeps you back
from the edge of the vertiginous ravine
the sublime opens up in your mind.
Turn away from the landscape, hold up
the glass, shield your face from the sun:

Salvage Veuve

for Adam Zagajewski

Swedish divers investigating a shipwreck in the Baltic Sea have found 30 bottles of champagne, produced in the 18th century. The divers believe that they have stumbled upon the remains of a cargo ship that carried the Russian Empress Catherine the Great gifts from the French King Louis XVI.

Voice of Russia, July 18, 2010


No matter how far we sailed,
French would be spoken there,
spreading like scarlet fever

or tendrils of morning glory:
a syrupy drawl in the tropics,
crisp in the Northern tundra;