Jim Davis is a graduate of Knox College and now lives, writes and paints in Chicago. His work has been selected
to appear in The Ante Review, The Café Review, Chiron Review, Midwest Literary Magazine, and Red River Review, among others. In addition to the arts, Jim travels the world as an international semi-professional football player. True story.
for Gerhard Richter
On a quiet hillside in the deep German night,
he dipped his bucket in a gray well
and pulled out a spilling bounty of nothing, a bucket
void of human form, a barren desert landscape,
save the desert; a forest purged of color,
burned to its floor with the unforgiving white flame
of a white stick candle. Grand platforms without
towering archways, no gargoyle carved in its eaves,
a track with no train arriving, no smoke chugging in,
no track. The train’s non-existence has left
the faint smell of cinder and oil or the bouquet
of fall leaves, and would not swaddle the evening
in its gray blanket. The black and white
children playing castle on the beach are nothing.
The blurred sphinx and crawling jungle cat, false.
Each and every unit of the morning traffic jam
fades away into controlled vaguery,
only gestures to shoulder the heavy genius,
the monotonous restraint of spontaneity.
The others would agree, of course, floating
in a vast empty sea, nothing to rock their rafts
as they drift into grayness; ice in a glass.
Out here the gulls caw allegiance
to Rothko’s transcendental voids,
and Pollock’s brindled she-wolf howls
an aching affirmation to nothing
in the empty night sky, disturbed by stars.
He understood, of course, that in his spilling bucket
was the same pitiful nothingness
that Vermeer’s women balance on the silver palms
of a delicate scale, hands folded
over the lap of a colorful dress, staring painfully
from the same open window.