Barbara Crooker: “Late Painting: Path Under the Rose Arches 1920-22”
LATE PAINTING: PATH UNDER THE ROSE ARCHES 1920-22
Monet is only an eye—yet what an eye.
And now, the flowering arches become a child’s scribbles,
broad scrawls, sprawls of color you can’t quite see:
braided ribbons of burgundy, navy, sienna, ochre, umber.
Each arch opens a passage, a tunnel, a path that leads on.
No more working en plein air, no more striving for the elusive
moment. No more series: stacks of wheat, a cathedral
in sunlight, trains at the station; no more smoke, fog,
the sun lying down on the sheaves. So many ways
to say good-bye. The short flicked brush strokes
that tried to catalog light’s changes now become gestures,
swoops and swirls. Monet said My poor eyesight makes
me see everything in a complete fog, and I’m feeling this, too—
something not yet diagnosed, needing more light to read.
Typos flit on the screen, escape my scrutiny. Lines fly off
the page, during a reading. But I’m not ready to quit,
and neither was he. Despite his growing cataracts,
he picked up a brush, having memorized the placement
of pigments on his palette, and started in on the water lilies,
les Grandes Decorations, from the garden of his memory,
removing the horizon, letting the flowers float
on the deep blue waterfall of radiant light.
Barbara Crooker is a poetry editor for Italian Americana and author of nine full-length books of poetry, including Some Glad Morning in the Pitt Poetry Series (2019). Her awards include the WB Yeats Society of New York Award, the Thomas Merton Poetry of the Sacred Award, and three Pennsylvania Council on the Arts Creative Writing Fellowships. Her work appears in a variety of anthologies, including Common Wealth: Contemporary Poets on Pennsylvania, and The Bedford Introduction to Literature.