escaping the frame
as the light pours/ ice shatters/ glimpse
into the maze/ of his mind/ where she
wanders/ in his striped shirt/ casually
loosening/ a button or two/ stretching
venal curves/ to paint what hasn’t
been learnt/ tradition to unlearn
Demoiselle d’Avignon/ prostitute
staring vacant/ from the canvas/ strides
beyond fantasy/ into the room/ Picasso
with appetite/ waking/ and her
poised/ masked/ primitive/ savage
aura of light/ escaping the frame
he was a thug and rapist/ her voice says
A fisherman no more,
he’s strolling down St Ives,
the curve of cobbled streets
towards the pebbled beach.
Some label him naïve,
his neighbours furrow brows.
Each day he paints those times
of boats with thirsty sails,
the sky a rash of gulls,
that harbour of flightless hours
and anchored names. He climbs
the rigging with bristled brushes.
His canvas, cardboard torn
from discarded packing cases.
His wife is graveyard stone.
He paints for food and friends,
that distant ebb and flow,
but dies in the workhouse.
His paintings breathe salt air,
hang in the Tate, St Ives
Translucence, a simple glaze
of indigo and woad for her background.
There is no clutter of lovers’ letters,
no stage of maps and lutes.
In abeyance she turns to gaze at him,
a brush of light parting her lips.
A servant, yet the cloth of lapis lazuli
about her head emboldens her eyes.
Ochre blended with lead, and poisonous
vermilion, giving life to flesh.
His final act, a fleck of impasto
adorns this maid with pearl.
Phil Wood was born in Wales. He has worked in statistics, education, shipping, and a biscuit factory. His writing can be found in various publications, including: Snakeskin Poetry Magazine, Fly on the Wall Magazine (issue 6), Ink Sweat and Tears, London Grip, The Bangor Literary Journal, Allegro.
Pearl was published in the Open Mouse (now closed)
photo by Skye Studios