Landscape with Rocks, Sky, Nails
The rocks a tumble of sharp edges.
And atop this, wedged against sky in varied
shades of blue, the artist’s house.
I try to keep my mind focused,
but I find myself stuck beside a visiting
group of students—fourth, maybe fifth grade .
The docent asks a question and the kids’ hands
sprout like foam splashed against rock,
eager, full energy. One boy sits with his back to the group,
elbows on knees, eyes roaming across art filled walls.
They say Kent built the house and I can’t help
but wonder: Did he hammer the nails himself?
Did he turn the spindles for the porch rails?
I read somewhere that Kent spent his time
on Monhegan drilling wells, repairing roofs,
emptying privies. The boy taps his feet—no good reason--
but he reminds me of Roy, a boy I tried to teach to read,
a boy who lived in a house with a privy out back,
a boy whose father slammed him against walls.
Look at the painting, the way the door
could be a piece of sky, so blue.
And the house with its open-mouthed porch--
the sea, the wind—full of it. So many straight lines
and nails, an artist’s house with clean light spilling
across the floor. I remember the night
Roy, his mother, and sister slept on my floor,
fear tucked in their backpacks. I got up
before dawn just to watch his chest
rise and fall in dreadful light. In the painting:
a rough climb, no path across the rocks.
There must be some easier way in.
Judy Kaber's poems have appeared or are forthcoming in Eclectica, Crab Creek Review, Miramar, Off the Coast, and The Comstock Review. She is a retired elementary school teacher living in Maine.
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