RSS Feed

Monthly Archives: January 2009

Landscape in France

I look again at Gauguin’s painting 
as my colorblind father might have
before he died, after sailing home
from the war in France : he sees some
of the yellow in those farms on the horizon,
and some of the blue in that small pond
any cow might drink from, but for him
every red and green is gone. Those grasses,
trees, and hills, and those patches of clay–
all a beige waste under skies too pale
for rainbows. And the one face, nearly hidden,
of the painting’s only figure, seems
bloodless to my father’s way of seeing,
camouflaged by that same grey ground
peasants put their spades to — death
that Gauguin, sunstruck on his island,
thought he could leave behind.
This poem was inspired by images on a website about colorblindness : two reproductions of the painting Landscape at Pouldu by Paul Gauguin (1848-1903). One reproduction presents the painting as a normal-sighted viewer sees it ; another reproduction presents the painting as a colorblind viewer sees it. This poem is one in a suite of four poems I wrote about colorblindness.
This poem benefited from the feedback of members of Thomas Lux’s workshop at the 2009 Palm Beach Poetry Festival. Thanks to Linda A. of that workshop for suggesting the word “horizon.”
My goal when composing any poem is to craft a passage of spoken language in which the sound is at least as alluring as the sense. For details, see the comment box beneath this blog entry.
This poem is more fact than fiction. For details, see the comment box beneath this blog entry.

Kitchen Light

A young woman so drawn to the ordinary light
passing through  her dozen window panes
that she has climbed onto the countertop, one leg
resting in the aluminum sink, the other balanced
on the thin formica edge, extending in front
of a white china plate already scraped and rinsed.
The rest of her kitchen is black, far less apologetic
than any burgher interiors of Vermeer. Unlike his
maids, housewives, and early widows,
this girl need not refrain from getting as near
as she desires to the common city streets beyond
her daily chores and notes. Nothing keeps her
clothing laced or furred — no veils or aprons,
heavy skirt, bodice or collar. No suitor is waiting
for her reply. Her upturned face, a profile
of reflected light, is pearly enough
without the clasp on skin of things too rare.





This poem was inspired by a photo by Valeria H. (see her website HERE) entitled Kitchen. The photo is posted on the artist’s website as well as on EPTAS blog mentioned below

An earlier version of this poem appeared on January 8, 2009 as a blog comment on Every Photo Tells A Story. This poem was influenced, in part, by my reading of the book In Quiet Light : Poems on Vermeer’s Women by Marilyn Chandler McEntyre (Eerdmans, 2000).



ARTIST : Sarah Copeland (see her blog HERE)

ARTWORK : photograph The Eyes See posted on blog Every Photo Tells a Story, January 2, 2009 ; photo is also on Sarah Copeland’s blog

NOTE : The artist has seen the poem. An earlier version of this poem was first published as a comment on the above EPTAS blog, January 2, 2009. The poem was influenced, in part, by the daily photo/poem postings on The Storialist.


The Eyes See

They do.
But differently, just as no two

hats will shade a girl’s face
in the same way.

See how black lines and smudges
are almost shutting

the eye on the left
(her right), and yet

the eye on the right
(her left) is widening to white.

Just wait for a single wink
to fit that cowgirl rim.


by Therese L. Broderick



%d bloggers like this: