The Artist’s Room

It is infuriating, I can’t find the image of the picture that prompted this poem – it was a trompe l’oeil picture within a picture, and I can’t remember the name of the artist either. The artist had put himself within the picture, looking out, and most of the room lay behind him.

Feast the eye, or fool it. Trompe l’oeil.
I saw a window at the gable end of a house
A white painted house.
There was a woman leaning over the sill.
And then, and then, still
She leaned from her painted window.

Eyes see fleetingly, thoughts gather,
From fleeting feeling maybe never reaching thought.
This artist raises eyes with such apprehension,
Query, will you believe this story?
Will you believe this space stays, still,
this way I paint it, for your perception?

Disbelief and skepticism mount.
An artist’s room that never changes,
Ha! Who are you kidding?
He never dropped red madder on that floor
Never stood on a tube of burnt orange
Never threw his brush in unrestrained frustration.

The still life looks too still.
He watches me looking, watches me
Seeing the still studio he stands in
Dares ask us future watchers
Do you know how it is that I am? Still,
Here painting the room that is behind me?

I think this artist knew, as well as anyone,
at least as well as a poet,
that once you start the art, it takes your pen
your brush, your tongue, your heart and skill.
It follows its own theme, until
It comes with truth or lies, crystallized, forever still.

————

A picture of my own room. Not quite the same. But I am sitting on that sofa as I write.

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