the Grand Canyon

Flash after flash across the horizon:
tourists trying to take the canyon
by night. They don't know
every last shot will turn out black.

It takes sixty years for Rothko
to make his way to the rim.
He goes there only after dark.
As he stands at the railing, his pupils open
like a camera shutter at the slowest speed.

He has to be patient. He has to lean
far over the railing to see
the colors of darkness:
purple, numb brown, mud-red, mauve.
At first he can see only black-on-black.
"Something you don't want to look at," he says.

As he waits,
the waves of color vibrate in the canyon
like voices.
Pilgrim, bring back something
from the brink
of nothing
to make us see.

- Chana Bloch