All Around Is Passing, Mark Rothko by Elizabeth McLagan

These paintings were to be his passport to a more luminous world, not encumbered by our nouns and adjectives, our interpretations which always fall short. Dore Ashton Passport photograph, signature, official stamp. Harmless blue, nothing blue, lost in the bottom of the bag blue. Encrypted, entombed, the vault of who you are. With a word or a dab of paint you can make your way, trans form, overstep, trans gress, slip on those red stilettos, take on your father’s boots. Trans—out there on the other side, your body raveling through itself or another is giving birth is leaving something behind. Chimera, other-gift, as in. Trans—moving between. A cross-bar, beam. An OM for the work. Landscape altarpiece: your skull a chapel, bones a church. Late becomes slow last song last words brush the hinge between worlds. Lucent, paint-washed, pigment barely attached. To ignite a soul-flame. To impale with amazement. Cliff-contour, ghost-look. Transcend, Transient. Transit. A flock of leaves blows up from the ground. They speak they blacken into birds.

Elizabeth McLagan is the author of the poetry collections In The White Room (2013) and My Rothko, forthcoming from Salmon Poetry. Poems have appeared in The Southern Review, Boulevard, L.A. Review, Beloit Poetry Journal, and elsewhere.

Digital art by Dale Wisely