The Phillips’ Most Popular Painting
(after "Sonnet 43" by Elizabeth Barrett Browning
and Renoir’s Luncheon of the Boating Party)
How do I love thee? He looks down her dress.
I first love your bosom, then what’s below.
No fear, I’ll be gentle; we’ll take it real slow--
if you will allow me, you’ll love my caress.
She thinks: I love you. I think. More or less.
Though we have just met, we could make it a go.
You will ask me I hope--I wouldn’t say no.
I love your shoulders—OMG they impress!
He sees him lean back: A Bear of a guy!
I loved his arms when he pulled on the oar.
I think he’s gay, but I can’t catch his eye.
I’d love to be with him! I’d make him want more!
Renoir’s famous painting where young people try
to hit on each other brings bucks through the door.
Luncheon of the Museum Assistant
They linger yet, luncheon table still set--
disordered linen, crystal, grapes, and wine.
Relaxed, aglow, some friends, some newly met,
their clothes and hats are casual, yet fine.
She stands apart as patrons come and go;
her work to answer queries and to guard.
Her uniform is drab, her heels worn low;
she lives alone in sinking self-regard.
Boaters sur la terrasse, patrons in the room,
all talking to each other, not to her.
She dreams ahead to lunch break, coming soon;
admires again the bonnet with red fleurs.
In sculpture garden she will eat alone
the sandwich au jambon she brought from home.
Picnic on the Point
The parties in grad school were never like that,
I thought, while admiring the Phillip’s Renoir.
Our clothes Sixties casual, when friends picnicked at
the park with the Point on Lake Michigan’s shore.
I was shy, retreated from casual talk,
I stayed on the fringes, and didn’t say much.
A charmer said yes, when I asked for a walk;
I reached for her hand, she withdrew from my touch.
She wasn’t mean, but she was very firm:
My boy friend’s in service, the Corps, a Marine--
he’s coming to see me at the end of this term.
My nascent romance she had broken off clean.
That luncheon party over-looking the Seine
was lost in translation on Lake Michigan.
Gerry Hendershot is a new poet, age 82, who has published poems in The Ekphrastic Review and other journals. He writes in several styles, but has a fondness for forms, new and old. His themes vary too, but often have a spiritual or religious slant. Hendershot lives in University Park Md, where he is co-founder of an active poetry group, and teaches poetry and art in a program for senior continuing education at American University in nearby Washington DC.
The Ekphrastic Review
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