The Landing Place

by John Herzog

o'er vineyard and piazza
past palazzo and fontana
I glide about your arches
suspended through heaven
through safflower clouds
against Florentine sky
I descend your columns
hewn of Doric daydreams
onto forever's footsteps 'neath
statues of our foremothers
a sweeping stairwell sculpted
from sandstone and shadow
bridging yesterday and tomorrow
from our oil-stained canvas
to the palettes portending
countless paintings anew

we recline on twilit gondola
flowing in grapes and red wine
ricotta and cardamom
we cast our oars
into lazuli waters
as night's curtain cascades
upon crowd in the square
we are one with the frankincense
smoldering in our chests
a gallery of smoke carried
'cross the summer breeze
and it carries us too
down winding canals
lined with cypress trees
into dark of midnight
under flicker of stars
and a sea of fireflies

wherever it takes us
oh, love
we are already home


Author's Note: Inspired by the painting "The Landing Place" by Hubert Robert.

One of my partner's favorite paintings, we saw it together at the Art Institute of Chicago. Spanning nearly floor to ceiling, the majestic and massive painting transported me into the scene alongside him.

I sought to challenge myself to translate the painting into poetry, and to capture the experience of sharing it with my partner - an art conservator himself (meaning extra pressure on getting this right!).

Posted on 09/19/2018
Copyright © 2021 John Herzog

Member Comments on this Poem
Posted by Chris Sorrenti on 09/20/18 at 12:14 AM

Beautiful literary rendering of the painting, John. Wasn't familiar with it, so Googled.

Posted by Glenn Currier on 09/20/18 at 02:36 PM

John reading your poem was a sojourn into earth and sky and the whole process of creation by a skilled creator. I alternated looking at the painting and reading your lines. And your line: “onto forever's footsteps” seemed very apt as a the visual and poetic metaphor illustrated by the boats landing… each day, each year, each decade being parts of the journey to our landing whenever and wherever it will be. Your beautiful poem a creative and rich response to the art of Hubert Robert. I can’t help but think of the union of two spirits taking place as you soaked in the painting at the museum as well as your writing and the artist and his brush landing on that canvas centuries before. I hope before I die I can get to the Art Institute of Chicago. Meanwhile I will happily have to be content to experience the Institute and its city through your wonderful work. Thanks so much for this magnificent piece, my friend. Hubert Robert too would be proud.

Posted by Rob Littler on 09/23/18 at 10:36 AM

The last part, the image of smoldering frankincense, made me choke a bit, not literally, because it is luxuriously pungent

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