Friday, August 13, 2010
Femme au chapeau
This is one of my poems based on paintings, from my book of the same name. I think I need to go to a museum soon. Or visit a friend's studio!
FEMME AU CHAPEAU
– after a painting of his wife by Matisse, 1905
She’s ready to doff tradition’s muff and the cane
on which she stylishly leans. Yeats is about
to write: The bees build in the crevices. Her mane
of red is upswept, but wants out.
Hollowed by chaos, her face is Internet
turquoise and neon pink, cartooned as if
she were a television on which we get
the perennial game show, What’s the Dif?
Miracles of the time are all around her—
the German and his unconscious, Pavlov’s reflex—
a patent examiner with a theory that avers
time’s not absolute. Matisse goes psychedelic
on a woman’s face. Titled Woman, like so
many painters’ wives, she seems not to see
the changes or first she’d remove that chapeau,
and its crushing fruit, its dour antiquity.
Eyes wild as pinwheels whirl questions:
If we can’t escape birth or condition,
what’s the point? If not now, when?
Who will I be, Henri, when I come to fruition?
as a woman all rainbow atomic ignition.