V  P  R

Contemporary Poetry and Poetics





after a painting by Eduard Manet

"In the last year of his life, wretchedly shortened through
illness, Manet painted several of these vases of simple flowers."
          —Sister Wendy, The Book of Meditations

When the world was reduced to a black flag
of pain, the cruelest failures of the body,
what else could he do but paint flowers, white
lilacs in a crystal vase, prismatic in the April sunlight,
their heavy perfume filling the room all month long?
And what can I do when my autistic son
shuts down, talks nonsense, flicks and stims?
I want to go out and swim in this river
of drenching scent, so thick you could lick it
from the air.  I'd like to shrink to the size of a raindrop,
make my home on this branch of white clusters, let the ether
of their odor anesthetize the evening, a field of blank white snow.


© by Barbara Crooker


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