compounded metallic lusters
in reference
to natural sheens (dragonfly
and beetle wings,
marbled light on kerosene)
and invented names
as coolly lustrous
as their products’
scarab-gleam: Quetzal,
Aurene, Favrile.
Suggesting,
respectively, the glaze
of feathers,
that sun-shot fog
of which halos
are composed,
and — what?
What to make of Favrile,
Tiffany’s term
for his coppery-rose
flushed with gold
like the alchemized
atmosphere of sunbeams
in a Flemish room?
Faux Moorish,
fake Japanese,
his lamps illumine
chiefly themselves,
copying waterlilies’
bronzy stems,
wisteria or trout scales;
surfaces burnished
like a tidal stream
on which an excitation
of minnows boils
and blooms, artifice
made to show us
the lavish wardrobe
of things, the world’s
glaze of appearances
worked into the thin
and gleaming stuff
of craft. A story:
at the puppet opera
–where one man animated
the entire cast
while another ghosted
the voices, basso
to coloratura — Jimmy wept
at the world of tiny gestures,
forgot, he said,
these were puppets,
forgot these wire
and plaster fabrications
were actors at all,
since their pretense
allowed the passions
released to be–
well, operatic.
It’s too much,
to be expected to believe;
art’s a mercuried sheen
in which we may discern,
because it is surface,
clear or vague
suggestions of our depths,
Don’t we need a word
for the luster
of things which insist
on the fact they’re made,
which announce
their maker’s bravura?
Favrile, I’d propose,
for the perfect lamp,
too dim and strange
to help us read.
For the kimono woven,
dipped in dyes, unraveled
and loomed again
that the pattern might take on
a subtler shading
For the sonnet’s
blown-glass sateen,
for bel canto,
for Faberge
For everything
which begins in limit
(where else might our work
begin?) and ends in grace,
or at least extravagance.
For the silk sleeves
of the puppet queen,
held at a ravishing angle
over her puppet lover slain,
for her lush vowels
mouthed by the plain man
hunched behind the stage.

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