The Painter

The painter sits before a mounted landscape with trembling hands,
For they are not what they used to be.
Purple hedgerows blur into orange sky
And where cows once stood there is an enormous bull frog.
She smiles lightly at this, then back at me-
Eighty eight years chisel away an artist’s pride.

There was a time, of course, when the figures and
Colours and lines came so naturally,
Leapt out of her mind, kissed the canvas.
But nowadays she copies things-
Old photographs and post cards are strewn about and painted over,
Reworked as if to make the memories her own again.

That table where I learned to draw is a wreckage, too.
Mug-stained and scattered with brushes and cuttings and lost
Trains of thought, it does not displease her, admiring
Absentmindedly her own alien life mounted on her own alien walls.
Lost fields and well-trodden forest paths and grandchildren’s faces
All jostle to meet her eye, spark a recollection.

‘Just marry someone kind’, she shuffles and says to me.
‘Looking back through the glass at the details of the picture,
I suppose that was the most important thing.’


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