ROSA

Rosa, the Bag Lady, 1983, Bronze, 11.5” High

She sat there in the sun
resting tired old bones
her back leaning against the wall
of a building on Spring Street

a faded purple bag pulled close;
a bag larger than herself would’ve
been easier to haul in a market basket
like other homeless folks use
to carry their stuff.

Everybody called her Rosa,
part of the scenery munching
a crust of bread with toothless gums
wispy white hair falling on
wrinkled cheeks
street traffic going every which way
to assigned destinations

but Rosa didn’t have an appointment.
I had the thought to stop one time
and say hello Rosa, attempt small talk
but didn’t, being in a hurry
like everybody

although I had the sense
of understanding as our eyes
connected.
If Rosa would’ve responded
it’s anybody’s guess
I may have lost the chance;
she seems to have disappeared

as I looked around
thinking if I see her again to say
a few words hoping she would answer
with something about family, or
how she wound up like this

recalled the times in passing
when Rosa’s sharp and knowing gaze
pierced mine
linking us in brief moments
her head up, watching passers-by
as she evaluated the scene like
there was something important
to tell the world

and one day working with clay
in my studio
I began a sculpture of Rosa sitting,
as I saw her that last time

soft wooden tools caressed the form,
my fingers creating Rosa’s face
penetrating eyes and sunken cheeks,
her arms guarding the bag of treasure

I smoothed the clay
on downturned lips in a drawn face
imagined Rosa’s spirit talking to me
of happy times filled with dreams
laughing in youth and energy
on a school playground

teenage limbs dancing with friends
the grey strands flying about her head
flowing
in thick, dark abundance.

 

PAINTING YELLOW TULIPS

On the Veranda, Blue Sky, Yellow Tulips, 1979, Oil on Canvas, 23″ x 29″

Fresh-picked tulips
fragile in their perfection will live
perhaps a week; I place them
in water in a crystal vase

in defiance of the impermanence
bring out my easel and canvas,
splash paints on a palette
with a wide brush, dip it again
and again into creamy oil color
of dark ochre, cadmium yellow
titanium white

the canvas stretched taught
lavished in color gives way;
my brush outlines open mouthed
lips of tulips as they emerge
in opulent golden yellow

tender half-hidden buds rise
between the blossoms, breathless
in anticipation of opening

a hint of orange and warm umber
on the tip of a thinner brush
to paint edges of petals, light strokes
to define and embrace the cusp

now the curve of delicate lines
in cadmium red
to whisper in the shade and shadow
of every flower;

for foliage, my palette knife sweeps
vibrant viridian green into a shaft
of emerald leaves, to support
leaning tulips on their waxen stems

then yellow into green and a touch
of white highlight on the slender
pointed leaves to undulate
and bend in waves of layered color.

For background, I’ll paint the deep
Prussian blue certain to grace
this evening’s starry sky,

on table’s curving edge
I’ll place a blossom as though
casually fallen out the bouquet

and finished, yellow tulips
ordained to breathe on canvas

 

MYSTERY IN THE ART

Anna in her Wedding Veil, 1985, Bronze, 28″ High
“my soul is from elsewhere, I’m sure of that…”

                                          Rumi

Warm hands manipulate clay
on the modelling stand into the form
of a young woman as I mold
the sculpture, proud posture

strong shoulders, full breast and hips
her face framed in flowing waves
of shoulder length hair

hours pass in the transference
and there’s no perception of time

I move to the face, expressive lips,
smooth the eyebrow line with tips
of my fingers, then the eyes

step back in surprise; her bold gaze
directed out to me from the clay
with an intensity of determination;
an unexpected sensation of life

lips turned up at the corners
in a half smile, or is it a question;
the channeling of a woman
I do not know
a personality evolved
not of my own intellectual intent

the shape of a restless ghost
from out the constellation
demanding to manifest

or in the expression
is there recognition; my own self spirit
to force attention unacknowledged
in conscious awareness?

I leave the studio for the day
come back the next
with a thought to solve the mystery
as she stands there in firm resolve

the answer still elusive;
and will take a longer study for me
to decipher.