Saturday, December 31, 2011

Painting Poems

A number of years ago I wrote a series of poems about a painting session. Beside namesake Michael O’Dea and three other artists working at their easels, I sat writing solidly on the weather, ambience, painting process, progress of the painting and anything else that came to mind. To anyone passing, it would have looked like I was writing a painting.

The series is still sitting in my computer waiting to be included in a suitable collection, (or for a beneficent lover of art and poetry), but unusually the model and that same painting did make it into a poetry book. The painting became the cover for Micheal O’Siadhail’s collection “Love Life”.

Came in from the rain,
slate, strangled light,

streets streaming
green red wrack,

a city of disappearing,
quenching presences,

into stillness,
taut concentration.

Her back: a flame;
centre of the room,

on the wooden platform,
the scarlet gown;

her hair tied up, hand:
a teardrop on mahogany.
The chevron shadow beneath her chin,
seagull-winged clavicles,
almond-eyed navel,
lush ravine of her groin,
parabola shade beneath her breast,
arc-topped thighs:

he exposes these like an archaeologist
dusting a stone’s markings
into the light of day.

Skin, flesh, fat,
water and blood,
lymph and bone.

Light diminishes;
all changes
like a moving sky.


From the murk
a lighter hue,
a suggestion of form
rising toward definition.

Colours delineated,
form emerges;
features arriving last,
buttons sewn onto a coat.

He hopes for an effervescence,
a sparkling quality,
the extra melody that plays
beneath an achieved harmony.


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