Rauschenberg’s Bed, 1955
Art is a threadbare quilt
aggrandized with paint, hung
on a wall with a spattered pillow,
christened, Bed. Gallons of effusion,
in red yellow, blue, black,
pour over it for decades--
the drip is
of the authentic
The praise of the cognoscenti anoints
the Artist with the imprimatur
of ironic, witty genius.
Never an inkling of recoil at his
contempt for art that works, art
that keeps you warm--the art
of women. For real women--contempt
for his grandmother, hands knotted
around her needle, pushing it with
her grandmother’s thimble, or contempt
for the girl in a dim Charleston
sweatshop, a hundred sewing machines
like wasps buzzing around her, or contempt
for who knows what woman, but
quilting, I say, is women’s
art. A woman made this
and a man was praised for
throwing paint on it.
Barbara Carlton is a writer of poetry, fiction, and non-fiction. She lives in San Diego, California. In her other professional life she is an architect. In her personal life she is the mother of two grown children and the servant of two cats known as the Permanent Toddlers.
The Ekphrastic Review
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