Rothko's Reds

 

I imagine this
is the color the soul
knows, color of butcheries
in early morning, 
the quartered bodies spinning
on groaning ropes :
color martyrs saw, rolling
away from themselves
wide-eyed : color the moon
was the night my father woke
me to see it as if to say Witness
this with me so I can sleep
: color
the sky turned the day
they killed Christ and Rothko
got it, late, commissioned
by a restaurant in New York
called the Four Seasons.
Upon finishing them, 
he couldn’t bear
thinking of them there
and gave them to the Tate.
And good he did : I can’t imagine
them hanging in the early morning
over the set tables, bloodying
the plates, the forks, the knives,
that cutlery of the dead :
better here, where everyone is free
to visit them, everyday
if they wish or need to.
I believe symbols like these
are tottering through our blood
always, like people on stilts
in some ancient religious procession,
bearing the icon they love
and fear in equal measures
towards the candlelit altar
strewn with flowers.
How could anyone have eaten?
It is good he pulled them.