Marko blends a smidgen of Thalo Blue
into a print-run batch of Bismark Brown.
Chocolate turns to ebony, and then,
saturation pushes ebony into the pine-pitch
lamp black of moose lagoons far north
of Bangor; into a color that, despite all its blackness,
retains a fathomless, unrelenting brownness.
Isabella warms an ink brayer in her hands
and spreads Marko's blend of dark oil
out over a glass mixing table until
she has paved a patch of ink that bares
no more tooth than fine emery cloth.
She then rolls a seamless load of ink
onto the cross-hatched, furrowed field
of a 9 x 12" wood block, riding only a plateau
of image, ever careful that she ink no valley,
that no heavy hand skids-and-plows the plane.
With the confidence of Galileo, Marko drops
a sheet of Kitakata paper onto the block. Isabella
then places her hands -- folded, as in prayer --
onto the middle of the print, then opens them,
palms up, and smooths the paper to the block
until a palimpsest of image appears faintly
through fibers wrung from the heart of the
Gampi tree. Marko rubs a bamboo baren
over the image and delineates the edges of the print
by lightly embossing it to the block.
Using small, circular motions, he rubs the backside
of the image with a wooden spoon, working his way,
slowly, from one quadrant of the print to the last.
Then, as though removing a bandage from a burned
loved one, Isabella slowly lifts the veil from the face
of the block. It is the veil -- more than the face --
that Marko and Isabella most wish to see.