On Seeing Rothko's No. 14, 1960 (Carolyn Foster Segal)


It's a Roman shade, the thick dull red

falling halfway, to blot out

the evening sky,

or a thick swath of happiness,

the kind that arrives from nowhere

and knocks you out,

or the last scene in a Bergman film--

the black line at the horizon,

that hilltop parade of

the dead--backlit and

somehow triumphant.

See Rothko's No. 14, 1960

Mark Rothko
No. 14, 1960, 1960
oil on canvas
114 1/2 in. x 105 5/8 in. (290.83 cm x 268.29 cm)
Collection SFMOMA, Helen Crocker Russell Fund purchase
© 1998 Kate Rothko Prizel & Christopher Rothko / Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York

Carolyn Foster Segal teaches creative writing, American literature, and film at Cedar Crest college, in Allentown, PA. She writes humorous essays for The Chronicle of Higher Ed, Inside Higher Ed, and The Irascible Professor; her other essays, stories, and poems have appeared in over fifty publications, including, most recently, 2RiverView and Long Island Quarterly.

This poem is copyright 2009 by Carolyn Foster Segal and is posted here with permission.


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