Erin Berkowitz


Arles, France

In one breath, a block of stone
hollowed, windowed, and painted
yellow. Summer, watercolored,
soaked through panes
of the sunny house.

The sky was usually turquoise,
painted in patchwork and seeping
through an archway shaped like a keyhole.
Above the rail station, though,
it was sometimes indigo tinged
with warm gray.

Your rooms were shaded,
suffocated in green shutters,
drawn glowing deep cobalt
from the insides. Your brush
could breathe only in gasps
of fleeting curtain flutter.

Oilcloth bed sheets lie stained
in struggling slats of light.
Diagonally across the road, a garden;
beyond it, gleam of moving water.
From that open mouth
of the Rhone, you hear
only half of what always-flowing
summer water spoke.

In a mirror above the wash basin,
chin bristled by drying sunflower petals,
you watch you, formulating
Self Portrait with Bandaged Ear.
A background oftangerine and blood orange
tells usit will not be there forever.
You sketch.


After Edward Hopper's "Rooms by the Sea"

Of a front door flung open,
beyond the step is simple, open
sea. The light is milky.
Stirred by the wind with each
nearing current.

You know that familiar
mirroring: the bright echo
of glint and glimmer
bouncing off blue seawater.
But it's better than that.

This light is a blinding
afterthought, the sun's
consideration reflected as a favor.
The sea laps steadily
at the doorstep.
An eager dog.

Waves froth and curl,
tugging landward at the broad hem
of the sea's golden skirt.
Her knees are pressed with sea oats
from kneeling so long.

Our floating house is getting full
of heavy light. A vase of sea holly
tumbles with the swell and unswell
of waves. The broken buds, like
little purple snowflakes, melt
into blinding white or crawl
like sea spiders
back into the ocean.


Listen, you said,
rolling the window down
in still morning, winding
the crank of the gramophone
of this cold new day.

First, just the hush
of evaporating sand,
crumbling adobe--
we'd been watching the pueblos
thin around us all week.
A quartz sky, swilling up
mouthfuls of orange dust.

We waited in near-light
until, from the depths
of some unseen cave,
it came shivering up the backs
of the snow-dusted canyons,

a careful copper light
inching over the vertebrae
of obsidian mountains
etched into the horizon,
sun finally flowing
over the bone-dry mesa
in one trembling yawn:

some god's whispering
life into day.

Erin Berkowitz is from the Everglades. She is a recent graduate of Emerson College, currently living in Jamaica Plain, Massachusetts. Her work has appeared in Opium Magazine, The Emerson Review, Gauge Magazine, Gangsters in Concrete and [nerve]. She has never had a front porch, but she has fond memories of a long-ago back porch; her mother had a white wicker rocking chair on which she would rock and hum "Dream a Little Dream of Me" into the night.


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