Rembrandt’s Light

Rembrandt’s Light

We’re crossing Depression Era bridges

and she is becoming more beautiful,

driving with both hands on the wheel

as we head inland: away from saltwater eddies

where every few months an empty row boat

falls victim to the current, recirculates

against the rocky shore for weeks

before splintering its wooden hull

on the land’s dull and uncompromising teeth.

Rembrandt’s light always came from the left.

He painted and hoped the canvas would keep

his shadows, the eye drawn to where the flesh

was softest and the most tired: just beneath

the eyes where we keep our hurt and our joy,

where we seldom touch for how easily

the thin skin can bruise. Evergreens

invite us to agree on beauty. The fenced-off pier

begs for passengers. She says the light

is bleeding from the clouds. The pavement,

the undersides of leaves: every darkness shining.

— Luke Johnson, more After The Ark

T. S. Poetry

After the Ark, Luke Johnson’s remarkable first collection of poetry, chronicles the author’s upbringing as the son of two ministers. A seasonal triptych, the poems root themselves in the landscapes they inhabit: from the boulder fields of the Blue Ridge Mountains to the endless dusk of Clam Gulch, Alaska, to a half-frozen lake in Upstate New York. These poems ask the reader to move inward, to look hard at loss and see it stark and sure. The narrative, often deceptively formal poems, show us the affects domestic tragedies can have on a family’s faith in each other, how absence can color their collective memory. Ultimately, they are poems of hope, artifacts or rescues of some kind. Each one is a small proof that no matter the magnitude of the flood, through remembering there can always be salvage. These poems ask the reader to believe there is something left worth saving.



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