Moira Linehan: “Before Mary Cassatt and Berthe Morisot”


Fugitive, the materials of their art,
art made quickly in small notebooks, on wove paper,
paper that goods might have been wrapped in. In pencil.
Pencil sketch, sometimes pastel, a wash of watercolors.
Colorful little pieces of the confines of home.
Home where they made their art. Never alone. Sisters,
sisters-in-law, female cousins, ever close by.
By sofa, tea table, garden bench. No farther.
Far from boulevard, café, studio. The off-limits.
Limited, every aspect of their lives. Mirrors
mirrored rules for stepping out to dine, to dance. Be seen.
Scenes men painted in oils on large canvases. Framed.
Framework for the holding pattern till they married.
Marriage, or at least the arrival of children, the end,
ending their artwork. Art going, gone fugitive.

Moira Linehan is the author of two collections of poetry, If No Moon and Incarnate Grace, both from Southern Illinois University Press.

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