In Joyce’s Studio

Up the time-worn stairs
you will find a place
to come to do good work
a place to come to

and the trees
white birch trunks
on fields of blackest void
and merest blue ghosts
are a place too
a place of fine lines
and absolute edges

O the trees are people
with no legs nor heads
just trunks and eyes
limbs and crotches
or all legs
with scarred knees
and stitched incisions
tracing the rough gestures of
dull blades

and don’t you know
there are dark spaces
behind every tree
black shapes
that swallow light
and reflect the shape of absence

and the absence of shape
and all that lies between
are white paper birches
living pages
of one woman’s history
written in striate code

and who can say
whether the zebra is
white on black or black on white
and does it even matter.