Painting constructs itself from the trickle

of time, just as puddles dry, hay gilds,

the day erodes, repeats, sinks into the earth

and the air scraping ground.

On paper, on the nerve’s outskirts, the execution

will remain. No dust on the gash’s level.

The cat, the lizard, its blood, the canvas.

Translator’s Note

This "poem" is less a poem in its own right than a brief excerpt of a much longer--book length--work by French poet and painter Stéphanie Ferrat. As hinted at by the subtitle, the work consists of a series of roaming observations and meditations on both the physical goings-on within an artist's studio and the interior creative process. Ferrat's writing tends toward the associative, at times even leaning on the surreal — the French word "gestes" appears frequently in the text, and the language itself often performs an act of "gesturing" at ideas rather than stating things narratively or concretely. The work's grounding force is the natural world that makes its way inside the studio: the caterpillars; the flies; the wasps, which the speaker alternately cherishes and battles. The matrix for these small dramas, though, are Ferrat's magnificent reflections and epiphanies on the immense labor, responsibility, and ecstasy of artistic creation.