Vanishing Point: Daily Dose of Poetry and Art

Vanishing Point: Daily Dose of Poetry and Art

 Still Life with Bottle and Apple Basket by Paul Cezanne

Still Life with Bottle and Apple Basket by Paul Cezanne

Vanishing Point

by Billy Collins

You thought it was just a pencil dot
art students made in the middle of the canvas
before they started painting the barn, cows, haystacks,

or just a point where railroad tracks fuse,
a spot engineers stare at from the cabs of trains
as they clack through the heat of prairies
heading out of the dimensional.

But here I am at the vanishing point,
looking back at everything as it zooms toward me,
barns, cows, tracks, haystacks, farmers, the works,
shrinking, then disappearing into this iota
as if pulled by a gravity that is horizontal.

I am a catcher behind the home plate of the world,
a scientist observing a little leak in reality.

I watch the history of architecture narrow down
to nothing, all straight lines rushing away from
themselves like men who have caught on fire.
Every monument since Phidias converges on this speck.
Imagine a period that could swallow all the sentences
in an encyclopedia.

I have reached the heaven of geometry
where every line in every theorem aspires to go.
Even the vanishing points in drawings vanish here.
And if you do not believe me, look at where
the tangents of your garage are aimed.

You have heard of the apple that astonished Paris?
This is the nostril of the ant that inhaled the universe.

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  • I’m so impressed and intimidated by the daily dose of Poetry and Art. I wish I was sensible to get it up and just read the poem and talk through the art in the course of my school day. Honestly, I think this will be my school Lenten practice. I say, in guilt in shame, as someone who doesn’t barely read anything except pg Wodehouse over and over and over again. Thank you for all of them, even though I haven’t commented on any before now.

    • Thank you , Anne.

      I say there’s nothing wrong with reading P. G. Wodehouse over and over. He’s one of the best stylists in the English language.

      I’m sso orry to have to tell you that I’ve decided to take a break for Lent. Hopefully the series will come back later in the year; but for now it does take a lot of time and I want to make room in my day for some spiritual reading. I have a few poems I might post through the Lenten season, but I’m not going to try to make it a daily exercise. But if you wanted to go through the archives and do one a day, there might be enough to take you through Lent.