Fall 2010, Volume 9

Poetry by Rose Black

Imaginary Bricks

are never safe in an earthquake. San Francisco, 1968.  We were all eating dinner in my Polk Street flat, three floors up. I had only been in town two weeks.

Sally and Shane came to visit, and under Shane’s arm was a large rolled canvas. We unrolled it slowly, tacked it to the white brick wall. The entire painting was the color of sand, a huge sand dune that stretched from floor to ceiling. In one corner, a tiny blue dot.

His student wanted to trade paintings with him, and of course he said yes, Sally explained. It’s bloody awful, Shane agreed. What are we going to do with it?

We stared at the painting. It smelled like sun on hot sand. We stared until the sand swirled around. The dunes advanced and receded. The blue dot of a man began to walk across the desert.

When the earthquake struck, the ceiling lamps swayed, and raging sandstorms churned around us. We all squeezed under the table. The building rocked back and forth. And the little blue man got swallowed up entirely, by the clouds of shifting sands.

















BIO: Rose Black lives by the Union Pacific Railroad tracks in Oakland, California, where she and her husband operate Renaissance Stone, a studio and supply source for stone sculptors. Born and raised in Washington, D.C., she was educated at Oberlin College (B.A.) and Bank Street College of Education (M.S.). She organizes workshops and lectures for artists and writers. Her poetry has appeared in Ninth Letter, Oregon East, Poet Lore, RiverSedge, Runes, Soundings East, South Carolina Review, and Spillway, among others, and she has read her work in major venues throughout California. Currently, she is Associate Editor of the Marin Poetry Center Anthology.