August 24, 2011KR OnlinePoetry

Catskill Mountain House (1824-1962)

In this rich and privileged
       light, in true
American light, where hung
       chandeliers, diamond dew-
drop earrings, stoles
       of perfume plundered
from the sex
       of animals,

one antique urge
       dovetails into another:
how to reconcile earth
       with progress; poverty
with the lust
       of imagination.

Where scat lies: a presidential
       bedroom;
the grand dining hall: iron
       and sepia plaques
depicting the grandeur become
       ghost,

government-burned,
       preserving
watery vistas the famous
       plein air painters
meant to see us
       through the centuries:

oil and water-
       colors for praising fowl,
the combed-through
       clouds, moss and egg-
shaded mountains.

       Historical,
those clouds, heading east
       in vast liaison
with train-made smoke, shrugging
       headlong
into our future, transient
       as anything
lived on a daredevil cliff.

Photo of Paula Bohince
Paula Bohince is the author of three poetry collections, most recently Swallows and Waves (Sarabande, 2016). She received a 2022 Fellowship in Translation from the National Endowment for the Arts and the 2021 Raiziss/de Palchi Fellowship from the Academy of American Poets. She lives in Pennsylvania.