Monday, August 30, 2010

A Pen & Ink

This is a pen & ink I just completed—actually, it’s a redo of one I did back in the early 1980’s from a photo in an old Vermont Life magazine. My older brother liked it so much that he persuaded me to give it up for $50. That was the first—and only—original artwork I’ve ever sold, reinforcing the notion that I had some talent, and helping to sustain that idea through years of inactivity. Every time I’ve seen it hanging on his wall, when visiting his home in Vermont, I’ve been reminded how much I love the image. I finally decided to do another one for myself. I think it would be interesting to someday compare the two…
For me, it’s such an evocative image that I just couldn’t help write a little something for it…

My Consolation

Shriveled peas roll from my plate, into the pail where several crusts from morning toast await. Three escape into the sink and I chase them around the basin like piglets in a pen. I have trouble locating them as a shard of light pierces the tattered curtain, yet I can feel them, cornered. My fingers are still nimble enough to pinch and so they join the others.

On my way out, I pass her chair, pushed snug against the table. I stroke its back the way I used to caress the handrail as I stepped onto the porch of her parents’ house, my stomach twisting and turning with new love. Her barn coat still hangs from the old iron hook like dainties slung over the shower rod. Although the sight of it burns my eyes each time I come in or go out, I would die but for the yearning.

Then, the screen door slams behind me, echoing off every corner of the barnyard. On cue, they call to me like eager hatchlings waiting for their share.

Thursday, August 5, 2010


Okay, so I’m sitting here at a little café, with my spinach salad and a chilled stout, when this woman at the checkered-cloth table beside me pulls out a sketch pad. Well, maybe she’s just going to look over some stuff she’s already drawn, but no—she rifles through her bag and proceeds to unfold and assemble, right in front of her, a tiny field set of Windsor Newton watercolors—and not one of those plasticy new sets (like mine), but one of the old, out-of-production leather encased arrangements, with well-used pigments.

Oh, yeah, she’s serious—so serious about it that she’s oblivious to my eyes boring through the side of her head, down her neck and bare arm. The brush seems to slide between her fingers as if she held the wing of a butterfly, not cramped and controlled, like some unwieldy timber, not the way I grip mine.

She hasn’t glanced beyond her table and paints-at-hand since she sat. I want her to look at me, so that I can acknowledge what she’s doing, but at the same time, I don’t want her to see—to detect my envy. Now, she’s sipping her water glass down to half-full. She wets her brush between her pursed lips, drawing those fine sable hairs to a point. I wait, watching, knowing what comes next. She stares ahead for a moment, then plunges her brush into her sweating glass. That’s right, she means business.

All at once, I’m overcome with self-consciousness for her. I look around at the peripheral tables, at the others patrons whose eyes dart from their lunch to her and back to their main concern. She appears unaware of any of us as she dabs her brush, loading it with cadmium red and then dispersing it—with four loose strokes, flower petals spring to life from the vase onto her paper…