"Figures in a Landscape"

A weekly poem, read by the author.
Feb. 2 2010 6:58 AM

"Figures in a Landscape"

Click the arrow on the audio player to hear  Gail Mazur read this poem. You can also download the recording or subscribe to Slate's Poetry Podcast on iTunes.
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We were two figures in a landscape,
in the middle distance, in summer.

In the foreground, twisty olive trees,
a mild wind made the little dry leaves tremble.

Then, of course, the horizon,
the radiant blue sky.

(The maker was hungry for light,
light silvered the leaves, a stream.)

I liked to think, for your sake,
the scene was Italian, 17th century. …

Viewed from here, we resembled one another
though in truth we were unalike—

and we were tiny, he'd kept us small
so the painting would be landscape, not anecdote.

We were made things, deftly assembled
but beginning to show wear—

you, muscular, sculptural,
and I was I, we were different, we had a story.