Archimedes Palimpsest: The Beginning of The Method | Walters Art Museum Illuminated Manuscripts


The following poem embodies and celebrates the unreliability of memory, the unexpected appearance of past impressions, and the slippery, evocative riches of misunderstanding.

She had two Airedales.
I hate dogs. Her guest,
I said “How gorgeous!”
I was that way then.
Of the drawing—
the palimpsest I glance at
every time I sit here—
she asked, “What do you see?”
My lack of art-speak a spurt
of sour goat milk on a new
black shirt, I said, “Almost
three-dimensional—that white
oval in the smudged—
a grey soul—it moves me.”
“Garth says if I were serious
I’d unplug the phone.”
I glanced & sure enough
the phone was plugged in.
“I like how it still smells
like a cigar factory in here,”
I said.” “Me, too,” she said,
tugging me over to the new
painting she had to use
a red step-ladder to work on.

John Repp grew up along the Blackwater Branch of the Maurice River in southern New Jersey and has lived for many years in Erie, Pennsylvania. Broadstone Books will soon publish a volume of selected and new poems entitled The Soul of Rock & Roll: Poems Acoustic, Electric & Remixed, 1980-2020.

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