Gauguin, by Lloyd Jacobs
The painter comes to live
the scenes painted, the great masters
created the medieval life,
its mores and corruptions.
The poet comes by similar alchemy
to live the narrative
of the lives he creates,
linear and careful or disorderly.
The myth maker blazes the marks
of a lived life, guiding the stage manager
within each of us to the events
that seem to be happening to us.
The historian guides the high corporate
officer to fall as Thomas Wolsey fell
martyr to his gods, as the asp
martyred Cleopatra to Aphrodite.
How I have studied
the self portrait of Paul Gauguin,
the one with the halo and snake,
and screwed up my face in its likeness!
The kyphotic nose, the mustache
to hide a mouth longing for the apple
suspended as his life was suspended
between appetite and the sacred.
Gauguin the hagiographer, like the poet
and the painter, proffers a life to live,
a life of flagellant devotion,
consecrated to beauty’s pain.
After undergraduate study at Miami University of Ohio, Dr. Jacobs attended The Johns Hopkins University of Medicine. After postdoctoral study at three institutions, he practiced Surgery for twenty years, becoming Professor of Surgery at the University of Michigan. He was appointed President of The Medical College of Ohio in 2003 and became president of the combined institution when the Medical College merged into The University of Toledo. He served in this role until 2015. He recently resumed writing poetry, an art form he had not practiced for nearly forty years.
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