Tonight, after reading the story of Rauschenberg’s erasure
of one of Willem de Kooning’s drawings— something
I would miss, the painter declared; something very hard
to erase— I go out on the deck to snap another picture
of Venus and Jupiter coming closer together in the sky.
Intensely bright, two orbs outshining faint amber spilled
from street lamps obscured by leaves. What remains after
the marks are erased? Not nothing, say the physicists.
Not nothing, but poetry— says the artist. And I pause
for a moment, trying to look harder into the corridor
of darkness, knowing that everywhere I go, I have
no idea how much I am seeing. You, for instance, absent
from my side but now not so far away in the same
field of graphite: you could be anywhere. You could be
that outline scissored against the pines, a faint
stroke of orange blossom lofting above these fences.
You could be the sound of a shutter, the blank
accordion surface of blinds turned down for the night.
In response to Two Ways to Think about Nothing.