Eighty you are, Alice, planted
in a blue-striped chair, more naked
than nude. In one hand you hold a brush
like a baton, as if conducting your life,
in the other, a rag for wiping out mistakes.
Your breasts, like mine, droop
over an abdomen poured like a land slump
onto plump thighs. Pizza, pregnancies,
peanut butter, whiskey, long sweet afternoons
in the studio instead of in the gym.
Turkey neck, jowls, marriage, divorce,
paint under the fingernails. I see myself
with the same down-turned mouth,
the same skeptical stare and wonder
how we got our bodies through it all.
You used to say an empty chair by the window
would be your only self portrait. Save
that chair for me, Alice. I’m drawing close.
Tell me how to come ashore.
This poem was first published in Ruth Bavetta's book, Fugitive Pigments (FutureCycle Press) and by Silver Birch Press.
Ruth Bavetta’s poems have been published in Rattle, Nimrod, North American Review, Slant, Tar River Poetry, Spillway, Hanging Loose, Poetry East and many others. She has four books, Embers on the Stairs (Moon Tide Press,) Fugitive Pigments (FutureCycle Press,) Flour Water Salt (Futurecycle Press) and No Longer at This Address (Aldrich Press.) She writes at a messy desk overlooking the Pacific Ocean.
6/30/2018 05:26:52 pm
Love this, Ruth. Do you suppose she has a second empty chair for me?
6/30/2018 07:21:01 pm
How charming! I admire your talent.
6/30/2018 09:14:15 pm
6/30/2018 09:13:50 pm
I suspect there’s one for all of us. :)
6/30/2018 11:32:12 pm
Love this poem. It spoke to me as I am sure it would speak to most middle aged women who through life's trials with children, jobs, relationships, hobbies and just life in general placed more emphasis on other things instead of themselves. Now that life has slowed looking at ones own body we see the damage that has been done by letting ourselves go.
7/2/2018 11:14:53 pm
Yes. I totally agree.i am a teacher and a lifelong fan of Picasso. This picture is inspiration for me to go back to Picasso like paintings. Thank you.
6/20/2020 06:44:34 pm
I was so glad to read your poem about Alice Neel, and to see that there's another poet/painter out there who knows and appreciates (well, I'm sure there are many more, but I haven't connected with them yet).
Your comment will be posted after it is approved.
Leave a Reply.
The Ekphrastic Review
Join us on Facebook: