They had trained Monkey to ride a small horse, and also to play La Mer on a rudimentary trumpet. He was dressed in a stunning satin vest. He ate biscuits and mandarin oranges. What was it, then? that dug at him in his belly: a sort of terror, some alien jaw gnawing at a part of him he could not name. He decided to get up and ride his bicycle. He practiced the lasso. But that didn’t do it. He turned then and saw the painting which had always hung over his cot—Constable’s Study of Clouds. There it was: the untouchable thing living in him, the ephemeral merging of clouds, becoming, unbecoming, becoming again: limited only by the arced reaches of the sky. Again the ache took him. Monkey reached a finger to touch what was so alive, so simple in its sovereignty. The canvas was rough. Cold. Finite. His life turned over in its cage. The outer lights flicked on: the stink of a cigarette. The fat and heavy mustachioed breaths. The hands, coarse and unapologetic, rushing in at him.
Andrew Robin is the author of the poetry collections Stray Birds (Kelson Books), Good Beast (Burnside Review Books), and Something has to happen next (University of Iowa Press). He is the recipient of the Iowa Poetry Prize, a Poetry Society of America National Chapbook Fellowship, and a Distinguished Teaching Award from the University of Massachusetts Amherst. He lives with his wife Sarah on Lopez Island in Washington State.
A Song for Andrew