Still Life, Geranium, 1939
Two perfect apples, stem side down,
poised on a cloth like a prayer shawl, its blue
repeated in the furled border of a curtain that screens
all but a hint of sunlight. One more lone apple teeters
at the opposite table-corner.
Of the geranium: one does not see its strangled roots,
but how could they not be, the plant heavy with leaves
too large for its stunted blooms, bursting
from its too-tight clay pot? The leaves throw shadows
onto grimy diamond-patterned wallpaper, and the whole
of the arrangement rests on a small square table.
The tabletop, for the sake of perspective, appears
to slant downward, atop three too-short legs resting on a corner
of worn Persian or copycat Linoleum. Surely in real life
the whole of it--scarf, apples, dirt--
would have slid in a mess to the floor.
The shawl, the curtain, same table, different fruit:
he uses them, in endless re-groupings, on other canvases.
Little do we know of Remlinger: shy man, pauper,
sometime draftsman. The Pennsylvania Academy
said No to his offered bequest: No we cannot
give you wall space though your honours
in life have been numerous. And so did others
say No. Years later, in an attic,
a dealer said Yes: Yes I can move these.
Joseph Remlinger, with little hope in his life,
after death became part of "The New Hope School."
Like the precarious arrangement on the tabletop,
a reminder of the shiftiness of fame.
Look at it--on the white sun-shot wall
of a suburban kitchen,
the geranium is ablaze.
Elizabeth Stoessl lives in Portland, Oregon, after a long career as a public librarian in Arlington, Virginia. She is the owner of this painting, acquired from an art dealer in Pennsylvania. Her poetry has appeared in many journals and anthologies, including Measure, Poetica, VoiceCatcher, Sow's Ear Poetry Review, and the anthology Fire and Rain: Ecopoetry of California.
The Ekphrastic Review
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