Ten Uphill Observations (for Jonathan Borofsky)

Ten Uphill Observations Walking to the Sky, Insufficiently Inebriated, Hiking Home After an Opening of Thrush Holmes, Autumn 2006

– for Jonathan Borofsky

Jonathan Borofsky Walking to the Sky NY attribution Wiki_Yolky

Steeples rise up one over the other on the right. Gray block apartments to make Stalin smile tower on the left. An awning of tin affixed to a low profile, institutional red, provides poor punctuation. Now a stream of shimmering fish and their reflections: boutiques, galleries, offices, restaurants.

Wolfgang Puck must love the color orange.

Adolescents take inspiration in sky blue graffiti, capitalists in decimal places shifted to their advantage, eccentrics in tennis shoes looped over power lines, artists in looking up.

Counting by twos or threes for one hour is always sweet although counting by ones for two or three hours is never enough.

This slab underfoot is cracked like my mother’s heels long before the rest of her grew crusty. Today she could purchase help anywhere: Kroger’s carries Nivea and Lancome, while Neimans sells Dior but won’t accept Visa.

We all crackle sooner now flying from Memphis to Detroit and L. A. to Atlanta, but savvy suppliers solve our temporary setbacks to skincare.

This next crack is a pitchfork or an angel or a butterfly. Roots with tales to tell if we listen split the sidewalk like egg shell. One maple, three stories tall, stands divided like Siamese twins joined at the waist, their low slung belt of holes and knots cinched just below.

Why do we say that leaves turn? They blush, heat, flame, hesitate, then cower and fall away.

The aroma of boxwood carries me to Virginia, to fifty fireflies glimmering in the mason jar, to eight iron chairs painted white in the formal garden setting the stage for a family photograph of four generations. Faces are circled, muddied by fingerprints and dust. No one circles the voice box but we title everything, all the same.

Maybe I will count lights or sirens. Maybe I will let the lights loose. Maybe I will walk to the sky. Maybe I should have sipped the third glass of wine but the lack of identifiable cherry, plum, and pepper spoiled the serenade.

Let us not undermine the effectiveness of stripes and chips: ochre, lime, rose acrylic – lavish strokes slathered on board over old snapshots under thick strips of resin are blown up to unthinkable dimensions as Texas-size formats demand prices to match. Some say it makes sense that a twenty-something art star would earn two grand per square foot and experts confirm it. I miss the labor of the slow hand, the intimacy of Arches paper, each sheet lovingly signed and numbered.

Emerald Green Emergence is, nonetheless, an extravagant beauty.

Make it to nine figures? Once, I made it to six and called it a victory. Somewhere in Maine, perhaps Jonathan Borofsky hushes his counting and continues to paint and sculpt for reasonable sums.

Another limb offers its révérence, leaves shuddering as Peachtree curves; coupes, sedans, and pickups speeding by.

© D. A. Wolf

Image of Walking to the Sky, sculpture by Jonathan Borofsky, Wiki, CC 2.0, attribution Yolky here.

American artist Jonathan Borofsky may be best known for his mammoth public sculptures including Hammering Man, Molecule Man, and Walking to the Sky, but his paintings, prints and drawings are equally eloquent and on a much more human scale. Visit the work of Jonathan Borofsky here. Be sure to view his past work including paintings and drawings from 1972 – 1990 revealing his fascination with counting.


  1. Bronte says

    Just beautiful, D.A. I didn’t realize you are a poet too, and a very fine one. I love the way the poem takes inspiration from the artist’s work, while staying grounded in the here and now of walking home. You make me realize that encountering art that moves us may have more in common with falling in love than I recognized before. Like experiencing art that touches us personally, in each new love we encounter a new instance of ourself. We look at the work of art but end in seeing ourselves. Love stirs particular, if vague or unconscious, memories from long ago, giving us the ability to understand them in a new way. In love, we project elements of ourselves on the beloved, awakening and recognizing qualities that were laying dormant. I particularly love the image of the leaves in verse 5. Actually, I love it all! Thanks for sharing it.

    • D. A. Wolf says

      Glad you enjoyed, Bronte. I agree, art is, for some of us, very much like falling in love. We are awakened to all our senses and so much more observant.

  2. says

    While I always appreciate the informative and helpful posts you write, D.A. – it’s when your poet’s soul writes that I’m really in awe. What a fabulous mind and lush, lush talent. This is so rich.
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