Monday, May 19, 2014

Afternoon with Monet

Lovely day here, the breezy and brilliant kind of spring day I imagined from Monet's painting, after which I wrote my poem. The traveling exhibition "Monet in Normandy" visited the DeYoung Museum in San Francisco some years ago and it inspired me to write back to several of the paintings. Bought the book too, so I can keep talking back to Monet -- or rather, asking questions, as in this poem. Do you ever talk back to poems with your own poems?


I Spend an Afternoon with Monet

The poet interrupts the painter.
It looks like a poem made of a thousand commas!
I didn’t mean to be abrupt. He tips back
his hat to raise the black commas of his eyebrows.
I can’t help myself; I ask When did the mists veil you
and make you this burly old bride?

He pretends not to hear, flips off
another series of commas. The strokes daisy in rows
of white, maybe foam, maybe snowflakes.
The skritch of his brush repeats itself
fifty times as I wait. Everyone assumes white
is his finishing touch, but I see he begins with airy patches,
flecking light into bush, sky, and ocean
as if seeing through lace. Is it his eyesight?

He begins with light, then adds dark
emphasis. Light on light, the whole
of sky and sea in rhythm, as though harmony
were endemic as minnows or weeds.
I stand back all afternoon and watch
as he accrues, like a greedy accountant, like God,
flakes, flocks, fleets, puffs, petals, and leaves.