BY JAN HAAG

POETRY + ESSAYS + MUSIC + TRAVEL + FICTION + TEXTILE ART

INTRODUCTION + HAAG'S BIO





CONSIDER SLOW COOLING


11-30-97


"I made my first sculpted human figure from five different metals. But when I had finished welding it together, I took the hot metal out into the cold winter air and the whole thing contracted at different rates. It flew apart in my hands. That was my lesson in slow cooling. There was no saving it. It flew into hundreds of pieces."
Harold Schwarm



Hmmmmm, Devayani, five metals,
hot to cold,
contraction at different rates,
leaping back to stasis,
it'll shatter in your hands.

Consider the surprise element.
White snow all around,
a hot new sculpture in your hands,
the frigid air like God's fist
shattering it into drifts.

Consider the sound, popping
and hissing, cracking and
still small shieks in the stillness
of an early dawn dedicated to
creation. Explosion!

Consider the smell, the ice-fresh dawn,
the sun contemplating its rise, the scent of sun rays,
the bare, structural trees, standing,
their odorless limbs angular to their trunks,
sap gone to their roots.

Consider the taste: Hot metal even in
the kitchen has a taste of over-ripeness,
enriched. Chruuuuuuaaang! The smell/taste
is gone, melting like daggers
in the snow, the taste of feathery water.

Consider the touch, hot in your gloves --
you must have been wearing gloves.
How hot can a statue be --
while being transported into
glacial conditions?

You can touch the fragments,
but not the whole.
Before the fire there was belly,
buns, arms and legs,
a noble head, texture like a human skin.

It stood in your hands for a few moments,
maybe longer. Out of the fire, on to the ledge,
or the floor, you watched it while putting on
your overcoat in the hot/frigid air of the foundry.
It wasn't very big on the ground, the dirt floor.

You fingered it with fleecy gloves, thick
leather on the outside.
Take it home! You're tired of the heat,
of the sweat of creation.
You stoop, retrieve --

O Devayani, watch this! --
walk down the hall,
push open the great double doors,
grateful the foundry isn't yours.
Someone else will damp down the furnace,

douse the lamps needed to illunimate the cavernous
space even in the day.
You've got a human figure now;
you feel you could slip through the molecules
of the door without opening it,

but settle for a conventional exit.
Your genius is in the work. The conception.
Thud! Explosion! Your hands are flung out
and crumpled in,
there's a hit in the belly.

By the time you worry about your eyes,
the fragments are skidding on the ice
of the walkway that brought you empty-handed in
and will take you empty-handed out,
the ice air like fire in your lungs.

Should you pick up the pieces
like shovel slashes in the snow?
You made a human figure,
O Devayani, did you see the human figure?
-- attracting the fog

in the frigid air,
condensing the light,
feel its response to the freedom of the world,
the air, the breath of existence! --
exploding in the snow.



Copyright © 2000 Jan Haag
ALL RIGHTS RESERVED

Jan Haag may be reached via e-mail: jhaag@u.washington.edu




OTHER POEMS ABOUT THE AMERICAN PEOPLE AND LANDSCAPE

Gladiolus

Arizona Desert

George Coluzzi

I Am Innuit

McDonald Observatory



TRAVEL STORIES ABOUT AMERICA

Mission Walk

Crossing the Country







BY JAN HAAG


POETRY + MUSIC + ESSAYS + TRAVEL + FICTION + TEXTILE ART

INTRODUCTION + HAAG'S BIO



21st CENTURY ART, C.E. - B.C., A Context