It first appeared in noonday sun,
its roof tiles brightened to near invisibility
deep shadows contrasting the angles.
In the soft haze of morning,
the detailed edges of tiles and bricks
and stones marked them out
as individual entities, held together
by will and willingness
as well as mortar.
Rain made the tiles shine again,
as perhaps they did when laid,
and intensified the color of the bricks,
made the building seem almost alive.
At night only the outline shows,
the structure’s looming mass
almost monstrous in the dark,
something dark itself, the shadow
of its beauty brooding over its power.
The visions all come filtered through
a chicken-wired ventilation shaft,
which does not so much obstruct the view
as protect it from unwarranted intimacy.
But the image that will linger
is the scene’s perception in reverse,
its reflection in the mirror
over the hotel-room desk,
when I too become displaced
in time and space, when flawed memory
and these inadequate words
will distort the backward reflection
of an unstable subject
behind a screen of wire.
T. Allen Culpepper