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first published in Connections 22, 2000;

in collection, Waterhouse and the Tempest,
2009, Acumen, ISBN 978-1-8731612-2-7.

 

Waterhouse and The Tempest

 

One of his last depicts her on a coast

of shattered stone.  She grips her damp red hair

with one smudged hand.  No palms or glowing dunes

but Cornish granite traps the cobalt air,

 

the sea an oily swell, a fractured mast

stirs doglike at her feet.  Her durable

blue dress, red-cuffed, resists this British gale.

Drenched in an upper corner of his work

 

a model ship is coaxed towards the rocks.

In childish print another corner offers

his name and year of painting: nineteen-sixteen.

Whiter than fresh drawn sap she stares and suffers

 

with those that she saw suffer: sailors lost

and drowned almost before her father's word

subdues the storm and lulls them gently home.

The artist, sixty-seven and one year

 

from death by cancer, holds no magic wand

to quell the thunder.  He reads this morning’s list

of casualties and mouths each fading name,

his aching bulk sunk in a garden chair,

 

his style of art unfashionable, threadbare

and even maudlin; while that girl, the same

in all his pictures, treads towards the tide

and hears no music on the tainted air.

 

 

Sean Elliott

 

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poetry favourites:
 Acumen;
Poetry Society;
Poetry at the Troubadour 

and in the shop ...
collection -
"Waterhouse
and the
Tempest",
Acumen

 


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