Saturday, 24 October 2015

still life

the room I had come to 
looked like a still life,
for a moment – perfect and unreal

with the solemn, hushed
dusty patina of an old painting

then, the nurse threw open the curtains
and I found myself thrust from
the masterpiece – landing
with a jarring time travel thump

from soft, warm vespertine drawing room
to:  deer in the headlights
pinned against coarse institutional green walls

and there she was  the woman in white –
white bed, white sheets, white hair … though,
her face of unbleached parchment paper
beamed, in a serene antiquarian glow

a slumbering stone angel – very old –
in the likeness of my grandmother …
her bone-tired hands were folded
like a church without a steeple

she opened her eyes, suddenly,
as if I’d woken her with a word … though
I hadn’t spoken – and with a glint
of astonishment, she smiled and called to me …
in my mother’s name

note:  posted for Poets United.

photo:  Still Life – W. Bourke
  
© 2015 Wendy Bourke

27 comments:

  1. What a scene, this could be for real or a dream. Aging sounds almost beautiful in your words, despite the nurses and the institutional green. The title works perfectly for the poem.

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  2. Oh this is lovely writing.. the last line packed quite a punch.

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  3. What a joy to read such narrative poetry.

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  4. This is a powerful poem..hospitals dispense chemicals..meddle with reality.. time can jump, get stuck..feel dizzy..i love that i don't quite know what is - but i do if that makes sense..the pulling back of the curtains and the ripping of a thought from a scene that provides comfort or escape is very real..

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  5. Perfectly painted, perfectly titled ... and your last lines made me feel as tender towards her as if she had been my own grandmother,

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  6. The vividness is strikingly beautiful.

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  7. "A slumbering snow angel" -- what a wonderful description of what an elderly person looks like in those sterile hospital rooms. And truly, the fact that she began to speak at the end of the poem makes me think that sometimes we really don't know how much they see or hear at these times...probably more than we know. I sense this is based on reality!

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  8. The slumbering snow angel - waiting the day out for awakening..the ending startles the reader. Your words capture a moment that many I am sure have experienced with an elderly relative.

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  9. A poem of such vivid, jarring images, at once beautiful and almost scary. That moment when the curtain is tossed aside seems to be the most important moment in the poem. Very nice - I'll remember this for a long time.

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  10. Oh, I see her so clearly, all in white, serene of visage...lovely, Wendy. Poignant, her calling you by your mother's name. A comfort to her, likely, thinking your mother was by her bed.

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  11. this sounds like a beautiful awakening from a dream. such rich language.

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  12. luv your images of both dimensions; really nice piece this one

    have an awesome Sunday

    much love...

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  13. Love this, especially:
    "a slumbering stone angel"

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  14. I did not see that coming....and I love the haunting feeling.

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  15. the fluctuating image...as surroundings are changed: before and after the curtain, angel and older woman, the grandma....enchanting words pull in your story...sad and serene simultaneously...

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  16. In the midst of somber awesomeness, you gave me a grin:
    "her bone-tired hands were folded
    like a church without a steeple"
    And I knew she was less alive, but alive and dear. Love the ending too!

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  17. and I found myself thrust from
    the masterpiece – landing
    with a jarring time travel thump

    Hank often gets this same feeling upon moving away from a painting on the wall. All the child-like dreamy thoughts get startled when faced back with reality. You're an artist talking here Wendy, Ma'am!

    Hank

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  18. This really IS one of the most powerful poems you have written, Wendy. Visiting yet a second time.

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  19. So close to home for me. My own grandmother calling my son by my name while I'm in the room is a surreal experience.

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  20. Beautifully timed surprises. Kept the tension right up to the end.

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  21. I love this poem for the richness of language, the sudden shifts of mood, and the emotion of generations interconnected.

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  22. Wendy, you are so accomplished at taking us, your readers, by the hand to experience settings so vividly. And, whew...that ending.

    Thanks for the welcome back! I have missed y'all too~

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