After the Fall
The Loue runs underground, birthed from dark
cave, shadows large and lurking, boulders
mirrored in murky water below. It is
the way of things, this dark water, this
blackness, this cave which surrenders
its bleak reality untainted by lush
landscapes. Courbet saw it, this accouchement
he knew, saw its truth black as oil beneath
the surface. Did he dive into that black hell?
Did he ever see sun glinting off water, or
Van Gogh’s, Monet’s blues and purples,
Gauguin’s bronze bodies, lying abed,
spread lushly by blue waters, oranges
and yellows, reds awash with sun glow?
Or was he forever le desespere?Of late
I have seen such a face, a desperate man
fraught with demons, his own journey
into bowels of soul. His return uncertain.
Nancy Owen Nelson
 Courbet’s self-portrait, “The Desperate Man.”
Nancy Owen Nelson is the author of Divine Aphasia: a Woman's Search for her Father, and other books.
The Ekphrastic Review
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