Paul Freidinger

Meta-love in November

—for Jan


A moment when Magritte slit the canvas
and opened our eye to his, our eye to what
he thought was behind the mind of art,

when we no longer saw but thought about
what we thought about what we saw. That’s all
I’m saying. When I trailed back to reflections

of a thousand mirrors and thought my past
was light blinding sight and dark losing me
in the dark. Forget about moral questions

missing the mark or the Holocaust as just
another flaw in reason. It is a bitter season,
naked trees, flags flapping straight out, people

walking with heads down, not caring about
a painter or a century dying. A moment
when the dying inside is a shadow obscuring

the hand upon the easel. I like what I observe
in the scene, a head above clouds dashed,
white down among the blue expanse,

the world curved in the gaze where
dance is imperceptible, and it is summer.
Now, nothing nears the awful truth of cold,

and I am drawn to art from desperation of how
to say my heart needs you to be the way I have
to see, and when I reflect on you, the profile

is always radiant and ideal in its position,
beauty behind my thought of how to think
of the sheer improbability of your conception.


The Decision

Each face is a mask
even when it doesn’t know it.

The nurse speaks to us quietly,
sighs, tired, but compassionate

and understanding, the pandemic
taking a toll on her patience

and energy. I contemplate
how young she is,

envision her remembering
the decision to follow

this path, to help those who
need help. We all require

a kind face, empathy. She
never realized the cost

to her own body, her soul,
and wondered, I can see it

flickering like film running
through a projector, frames

flashing in front of the light.
She said, I think you’ll be okay.

It turns out, we are. I ponder
if she will be okay, wandering

through this maze, thinking
to myself, she can always change

her mind. I nod my head,
bow to her body, bow to her soul,
I leave the mask alone.

Paul Freidinger is a poet residing in Edisto Beach, SC. He has poems recently published or forthcoming in Atlanta Review, Asheville Poetry Review, Harpur Palate, Santa Fe Literary Review, South Carolina Review, and William & Mary Review, among others. Between climate change, the pandemic, and war in Europe, he is sometimes less than optimistic about the world. Writing sustains him, for which he is grateful. He grew up in central Illinois farm country, and taught school in suburban Chicago.

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