The Blanchard Children (1937)
They are still
the table, floor. Dour
stiff forms. Little
above the composition
face, the pages,
Something doesn’t fit
the boundary, escapes--
a girl’s foot.
closed--or is it
In the dark the eye
and unseeing, both,
Still Life (1937)
One evening’s simple
into reds and blues
and greens, strange
of what we think
and what we think
we see. Unremarkable
potato, bread, and water
on a desk meant for writing. Repast
of an artist, circles,
hues assembled like schoolgirls,
mannerly for the moment, the chair,
the crockery, cloth draped
the Dutch way--but
poor, coarse canvas.
dull skin prodded
by a fork, a side of boiled
behind the carafe--or
here, the execution
of glass decanter shattered
at the neck. Be it
materials or something more
out of hand,
the artist’s ire
draws vessel to joiner’s
a feast of tears.
The cloth, the wall, the table
limned in red--
of knife-point into bread.
And hammer, lying
like an untoward comment
made by one friend
to another, a little funny,
and a little
mean. Is the subject
one wants to look,
glass untouched, still
Thérèse Sur une Banquette (1939)
Thérèse on the bench seat
tilts, one hand
from her black plaid skirt
centimetre by centimetre,
a single, slender
in Peter Pan collar and white
Thérèse on the bench seat
the ochre-dark. In perfect captivity
of the moment,
one could almost forget
war is coming,
then marriage at nineteen,
and illness, and.... But no!
Her red sweater says,
The canvas hangs on
down socks, crumpled
every fiber, caught.
tug at a fragile
a little criminal to want
Only eleven years
Inside the frame,
drawing the thread
endlessly, endlessly bright
against the dark,
La Victime (1938-1946)
My artist enters through the broken door.
Hands tremble, touching brushes, rags.
(But never me. No.) Still cigarette-long, thin,
a voice like ash--when he bothers to speak.
He sets the pitcher on the table, drops
the cloth. The palette is prepared. We’ll be
here for ages.
But who would sit for this?
Some unclothed woman propped up headless, gray,
askew as if discarded? Or lost?
Not me. I never sat for him like that.
Those arms, those legs--something isn’t right.
Body pitched, rough at the edges, bare
My artist turns pale,
grips his stomach, bends. See, he is not well.
He carried men across the line at Maginot
--well, what was left of men. Every night
the dead returned, mute, gaping. Every night
he screamed awake, a mess of tears and sweat,
till one day he, too, stepped wrong: Click, he stopped--
slag blasted guts, another caught the brunt.
Moaning on the field, “Oh, my angel--”
Angel! He thought his vision was of me!
“My little angel,” was what he’d said—me,
who twisted Hubert’s arm until welted,
red, his face like crumpled paper--“O! O!”
--I never said that I was sorry. Oh,
my brother, I was, I am. An angel,
Hubert--he’ll stay beside me to the end.
“The past remains within us, an affliction”;
my artist says this now. An affliction.
Is this what I’ve become? He sees himself
in everything. My little artist, victim
of a force that’s broken us to pieces--
Blow men and violins to bits, but leave
the trees, the country in its silence, green
and golden, velvet stillness of the hills.
A life I never knew.
And what of this
body, blush abandoning its soft,
sweet hull, breasts and thighs
mottling under loamy browns and grays?
My artist draws the knife upon the floor,
extends the handle past the frame--me, you
accuses? Her arms stretch up, unresisting.
She does not touch me, no. What, that morbid
tangle--? Nothing like my body! And yet
that face--gray, like a sickness in his brush
emerging, heavy-lidded, blotched as if
with filth and rain.… Don’t turn away, please, don’t
go, forget this stiffening body, face
an afterthought: Don’t let this be my own--
(Thérèse Blanchard, 1925-1950)
She’s composed now, just
of light and shadow,
and colour, convincing
the mind you can touch
The girl in the adult
chair, sunk in
the room, her face
a sallow window
on a closed
interior. Her gaze
you, and me,
as a dream. Electric
illusion of slight
hand resting lightly
on the knee--ah,
remnant of brush
stroke at her cheek.
But the canvas
is really board--
green and sour,
acidic in disrepair.
Still, life might be
In a chair,
and viewer, rapt
in time, its clicking,
A graduate of the Warren Wilson MFA Program for Writers, Lenore Myers' award-winning poems and essays have appeared in LIT, Southern Indiana Review, One, The Southern Review, The Massachusetts Review, and elsewhere. My limited-edition chapbook, Regards to Balthus, is forthcoming this summer from Seven Kitchens Press. She teaches English to recent immigrants in Northern California.
The Ekphrastic Review
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