Let there be modernism, he says, and in the radiant flat world
arising on his square of bristol, a cube shimmers.
Then balconies appear, and freshly waxed floors, and kitchens
still innocent of grease and smoke. Will he add
some tall cones of cedar or a brush tip of poplar?
Anything is possible beneath the thin gouache sky.
His own apartment is a wreck of central planning:
low ceilings, cracked tile, the orange linoleum
of some Seventies’ utopia. Exposed wires
dangle in the hall, the lift reeks of garbage.
A Freudian billboard obscures the house number
with praise for a cigarette “both strong and hard.”
How does he move between these realms?
What passport of intellect or spirit allows him
to forsake parabola and grid for this corridor
weeping with onions? On his screen,
Warsaw appears flat as paper, a page erased by fire,
before granite dreams of coalminers holding up the world.
Outside a cold rain, chimneys and pavement
the color of tea, women hauling in stockings
from the balconies. I love the hand’s provisional flourish,
before the first line, when anything can emerge—
even this Austrian market with suburban shoppers,
even this highrise of breakfast flakes, this Danube of soda.