Looking at Winslow Homer’s Paintings of the Tropics
Paurotis palms, saw palmettos,
a blue sky pure as thought.
There is beauty, there is light,
and there is death
lurking at the margin of the canvas
in the guise of an alligator
that’s deceptively still,
eyeing a roseate spoonbill.
In one late masterwork
a man lies stretched out
on the ravaged deck of a small
dismasted fishing boat,
sharks all around, their rolled-up eyes ecstatic.
And off in the far distance
there’s a tall ship faintly sketched
suggesting salvation is not to be expected.
If this is too dark,
take in the next frame:
a Bermuda bungalow, a flowerbed
in vivid yellows and reds,
a cloudless watercolour sky.
But even here you'll note the little
v-shaped tracks running along the shore.
And no bird in sight.
Kenneth Sherman is a Canadian writer. He is the author of ten collections of poetry and three books of prose. His most recent publication is the memoir, Wait Time.
The Ekphrastic Review
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