A Poem by Jake Lai
after Agnes Martin’s ‘The Tree’ (1964)
Of course it must hurt. The slow gridwork
is backache and heartache, it all hurts.
Innocence is an impossibility; innocence is
the most important impossible thing.
A white snowflake on a willow branch
is straining itself towards innocence.
Look at the painting. Nothing else
can come close to you, can give you pain;
the pain in your arms and the burning pain
in your soot-black heart. Look at the painting.
The colour of glaucoma in the sky.
Sexless line after line.
Your back closed on the world, in this life,
the silent litany of days passing over you;
the world gliding behind you.