Artist Painting Over Canvas

Artist Painting Over Canvas

detail from painting by Mary Winifred Hood Schwaner

detail from painting by Mary Winifred Hood Schwaner

The last I saw of the antlers
the cloud resembling a tomato

half materialized tree leaning
against years of gypsy weather

the old woman always
in the background always goes last and

she is the only one who comes back
but now you have decided to leave her

there her face whitewashed with relief
not finished enough to paint over

a tree begins behind her a brown stroke
in the foreground a young woman

her hands hold something valuable
you can see it in her face

even though the thing she holds
is almost out of the picture not yet realized

red vest light blue garment against
the yellow field past the dirt path

what will she hold and will she offer
it before the white brush comes down

you dab her face as if wiping away
a tear and promising her she will stay

the road darkens in the fading light
or is it growing relief the old woman’s

face does not change the tree
behind her branches off the canvas


[with a nod to bussokuseki’s “Earnest Offering” and ideas of erasure it inspired]

4 thoughts on “Artist Painting Over Canvas

    1. Jeff Schwaner Post author

      Thank you! The themes of your own poem resonated as I watched Mary working. So I had to give credit where credit was due! If I had not read your poem that morning, my mind not have picked up on what it did later that day.


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