TABLE OF CONTENTS

PRINT October 1996

LEE KRASNER: PORCELAIN, 1955

Take it down Tear it up Turn it over Make
it new out of old makings:
exert what that venerable scatterbrain
in Weimar once called the Power
of Pulling Yourself Together whereby
the master is first revealed.
Exposed is more like it: shown for what you are.

Porcelain! If a watched pot never boils, what
happens to a pulverized one?
These are not heroic fragments, nothing here
inherently shapely! No
identifiable vessel remains: you
picked up the pieces all
over the place and laid them down again

according to your own ragged politics
of reaching and retracting, no
better than breathing really, putting mere drips,
untimely ripp’d, not so much
where you saw they belonged, but how you surrendered
to their various discomfort:
an open mind must be open at both ends!

The wrong papers, the wretched old canvases
discovered to be no more
than rehearsals for much new catastrophe
this purple patch, that sliver
of viridian woven into the web
of accommodating earth,
our only planet not named for some god . . .

Then glued these scraps, these scrapings, these scrupulous
approximations to some
consistent field to accidents all that year, once
your wild partner in chrom-
atic fantasy had spilled himself out of
life like a puddle of paint:
these exist only because they have been made to—

compelled, this time, to sort together without
alienation, which means
they are a final vision. No, semi-final,
since the whole soul is never
one, save in ecstasy and not merely when,
as Yeats declared, it has been
rent. Another twenty years had to be lived

before there were Krasner collages again,
entire paintings ripped to shreds
to let the white light through. But that was when
you were dying, as you knew.
Meanwhile, there were other allowances
to be made, other makings
allowed. You decided once again to paint.