Pilgrimage to Mont-Sainte-Victoire
by Mary Jo Balistreri
            “I paint only what I see.” Cezanne

I walk the sun-strewn field, release
with the crunch of my shoes crushed essence
of lavender and sage that spark the air with scent.

Mont-Sainte-Victoire. I am here–
where Cezanne splashed canvas
with late August-ocher and violet-blue.

Lodestar of Provence, you defy time.
The railroad line carved into your foothills,
the scar he painted.

Unclasping the hinges of my canvas-backed chair,
easel ready, I paint only what I see:

        Remoteness, face veiled in mist
        distant and silent as God–
        mountain both apparition and anchor.

After I sit in its presence for hours, the mountain
traverses the distance between us, transfers
the fire at the core of its granite bulk.

Illuminated by the setting sun, it breaks
through cloud cover, shifts stone to stained glass,
a transfiguration of angles and planes so bright it burns.


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