by Betsy Sholl
Larry Levis, 1946-1996 At first they seem so different - the man squatting on two legs, one arm propping his chin, his gaze askew, wry like the face in the moon, and the dog, black lab with white blaze, her look solemn and direct, as if longing to step out of some grave perplexity and give voice to what furrows her brow. A maple leaf lies at her feet, so shaped it could have fallen from her chest. On the man’s other side, a motorcycle leans, its front wheel turned so the gauges show, the side mirror tilting like a thought poised above his head. In the background: blurred tree trunk, door with unreadable numbers, a tangle of shrubs like a woman’s sprayed hair still stiff, though mussed by a lover all night. No woman here now. Just the dog, the bike. On one side of the man, patience, on the other, speed. A downward slant pulls the whole composition, left to right, mirror to man, to dog’s earnest eyes, white blaze and fallen leaf. How long before the man’s knees ache to stand, before he takes that mute animal gaze out for a ride, motor between his legs, small mirror framing the world he is each moment and forever leaving behind?
From 2006 to 2011, Betsy Sholl served as Poet Laureate of Maine, a five-year position named by the governor. “The Poet Laureate is an honor bestowed upon a person whose work is nationally recognized and of exceptional quality. For more information about the Poet Laureate, please visit www.mainearts.com (Maine Writers and Publishers Alliance).”