Late Painting: Path Under the Rose Arches
"Monet is only an eye—yet what an eye." Paul Cézanne
And now, the flowering arches become a child’s scribbles,
broad scrawls, sprawls of colour you can’t quite see:
braided ribbons of burgundy, navy, sienna, ochre, umber.
Each arch opens a passage, a tunnel, a path that leads on.
No more working en plein air, no more striving for the elusive
moment. No more series: stacks of wheat, a cathedral
in sunlight, trains at the station; no more smoke, fog,
the sun lying down on the sheaves. So many ways
to say good-bye. The short flicked brush strokes
that tried to catalog light’s changes now become gestures,
swoops and swirls. Monet said My poor eyesight makes
me see everything in a complete fog, and I’m feeling this, too--
something not yet diagnosed, needing more light to read.
Typos flit on the screen, escape my scrutiny. Lines fly off
the page during a reading. But I’m not ready to quit,
and neither was he. Despite his growing cataracts,
he picked up a brush, having memorized the placement
of pigments on his palette, and started in on the water lilies,
les Grandes Decorations, from the garden of his memory,
removing the horizon, letting the flowers float
on the deep blue waterfall of radiant light.
This poem was first published in The Valparaiso Poetry Review.
Barbara Crooker is the author of many books of poetry; The Book of Kells and Some Glad Morning are recent. Her work has appeared in numerous anthologies, including The Bedford Introduction to Literature, Commonwealth: Contemporary Poets on Pennsylvania, The Poetry of Presence and Nasty Women: An Unapologetic Anthology of Subversive Verse. www.barbaracrooker.com
The Ekphrastic Review
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