Sunday, January 18, 2009

The Artist Has Laid Down

The Artist Has Laid Down His Brush and is Done
                          for Betsy Wyeth  (after "The Conch Shell")

The same curtains blowing at the window, the same
wallpaper, but peeling a bit now, faded and water-stained.
The conch shell, empty as his chair, blows the same sea across
the cove of your ear as you lift it to your head like before.

Bring home the gulls to your roof with a long low whistle
from the conch, bring neighbors with casseroles, bring
the dog from his lapping the melt of ice in the dooryard.
Bring your same fingers to draw the curtains aside.

Step through each room, their creaking floors like old bones
careful and slow. Watch the leaves of his sketchbook ruffle
in the breath of the open window as if he's thumbing
them, deciding which drawing or sketch wants paint today.

The same scenes are never to be the same without his careful eye.
The conch will go silent, the chair unmoved and dusty.
Somehow a shaft of sudden sun slanting the floor won't be
the same kind of light as he saw. Even the dog will not snore the same.

People will call and ask of you now that the artist has laid down
his brush and is done. You won't answer because you are not the same
as you were just yesterday. They will ask for some small memory
of your time with him and you will say the wallpaper holds all his secrets.


  1. This is wonderful. Did you just write it? If so, I'm jealous....(that anyone could write a poem so good so quickly).


  2. Hey, Snow,
    Lovely imagery as ever and always. In retaliation, here's one of mine. Nothing to do with this one, but sorta on the winter theme, kinda...
    Nice lobstah tree, eh?
    I am rereading for the zillionth time, "Jane Eyre," still as fine and dandy as ever. Focus, focus.

    by Linda Boyden
    the sorrow of losing you
    waits in the streets of my heart
    a hungry child, forsaken.

    Other times it blooms,
    a violet in the snow,
    hopeful, beyond all reason.

    Mostly, it sleeps,
    my sorrow,
    an elusive shadow,
    a fading dream.

  3. Thanks for the comments Pat and Linda (and your sorrow poem, Linda!). I actually did write this one rather quickly, with a short bit of revision at home later to smooth out the rough bits. I was so inspired by the painting, "Conch Shell," its emptiness and sorrow. I realized that we will not have new A. Wyeth paintings now and just had to write. I had just signed the family condolence book and wandered in to have a look at the paintings to see what might be there that previously wasn't. I am so lucky to have the Farnsworth Art Museum right here in Rockland and the ability to see the works of both Andrew and Jamie Wyeth. I often go there to write.

  4. Per 1/15 assignment. Unedited.

    What is this bitter memory
    appearing magicly
    shoving me into left field?
    The vinegary odor to my mouth
    unwanted - spitten to the floor.
    I long at these times
    to turn solid pewter as
    a machine-- dust covered
    and forgotten - even by memories.
    Let me logo: "Out to Lunch".

    (yucky but kind of fun to try getting all the words in.) I am heading back to writing - something is calling me to come out


Post here to comment. Join as a follower!