Monday, May 10, 2010

A portrait of the artist on the eve of his life

sunken too far in to middle age too young
whiskers long around the cheeks and chin
imperfectly shaven from the neck
a hurried job in preparation for some now forgotten event
the eyes are deep and watery
lined at the edges and greasy where they should be fresh
too dark

she was loved, he remembers, by all and everyone
she wore that love like a trinket in her hair
it made her shine, but she held it in no real regard
it was just another old thing
like the dancer who can spin and step so casually
but with such grace
it belies any real effort or concentration
it was given to her, and she took it

a hand holds unconsciously to a strand of beard
the rose of a gold ring and the chewed down nail of his thumb
a shirt cuff and a roll of collar in white broadcloth
gone the faintest buttermilk
gone over, a white shirt no longer fresh

"take it in both hands" he had said
"run rings around it, shake it in to submission
your happiness - you must take it
it wont wait all your life for you
it will find a more handsome suitor"
But what does youth know of any of this...

The shoulders of his suit
a fine cloth, but conservative
a joylessly austere suit that spoke of tradition and sobriety
a suit to be buried in, perhaps
not a suit to be living in

He lived in a Breton jumper
Stripes the colour of sugar sacks and raw linen
blue the colour of the sea in his dream
his pockets were full of his own keepsakes
the collected memory of his life
the family portraits of each year
a knife the shape of a woman's leg
brass and steel rubbed down to fine lustre
a silver matchbox engraved with three letters
a morgan dollar in a canvas coin pouch
his trousers always frayed at the cuff
and rolled like he had just been walking in the sea

A portrait of the artist on the eve of his life

- desu

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