Artist’s Room


His room is filled with violins and knives,
And scrolls are piled on shelves beside the clothespins.
Each day he mixes jars of beetle resins
With tree gum, purple crystal and amber dye.
He’s searching for a varnish to apply
On spruce, to make it deep and opalescent,
A clear lacquer, but strong enough to lessen
The splitting of wood that comes with age and dries
All instruments. Shellac, he says, should be
Like lake water splashed with oil and gasoline;
A lens: a skin encasing Stradivari’s
Finest; so pure it burns as anthracite —
Orange, then blue — then gone, illusively
As colors leave a raven’s back in flight.