Thursday, October 18, 2007

Bird Painter

I didn't use to like the ones with birds in them –
she'd paint alluring skies and water – minerally
brimming glints – then seem to feel she had
to punctuate their ambiguity with some expected

order – carefully assorted gulls: culled illustrations
out of greeting cards – obligatory birdies dotting
gleaming shards of sky and sea to add cliché
to the topography: some expected notion of what

ought to be above, beyond, around an ocean:
turned the beach from vague-and-haunting-lone
to Jones. But I was an elitist prig. Now I look at
each meticulously painted sprig of wing and breast

and tail and beak: and almost hear my mother
speak: each fine careful flying thing belies her
death: bears witness to what’s left – lifts the gulls
and deftly keeps them up: her artist's breath.

(wrote the original of this about two years ago. substantially rewrote it today.)

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