The Little Review (littlereview) wrote,
The Little Review

Poem for Sunday and Phillips Collection

Monet Refuses the Operation
By Lisel Mueller

Doctor, you say there are no haloes
around the streetlights in Paris
and what I see is an aberration
caused by old age, an affliction.
I tell you it has taken me all my life
to arrive at the vision of gas lamps as angels,
to soften and blur and finally banish
the edges you regret I don’t see,
to learn that the line I called the horizon
does not exist and sky and water,
so long apart, are the same state of being.
Fifty-four years before I could see
Rouen cathedral is built
of parallel shafts of sun,
and now you want to restore
my youthful errors: fixed
notions of top and bottom,
the illusion of three-dimensional space,
wisteria separate
from the bridge it covers.
What can I say to convince you
the Houses of Parliament dissolve
night after night to become
the fluid dream of the Thames?
I will not return to a universe
of objects that don’t know each other,
as if islands were not the lost children
of one great continent. The world
is flux, and light becomes what it touches,
becomes water, lilies on water,
above and below water,
becomes lilac and mauve and yellow
and white and cerulean lamps,
small fists passing sunlight
so quickly to one another
that it would take long, streaming hair
inside my brush to catch it.
To paint the speed of light!
Our weighted shapes, these verticals,
burn to mix with air
and change our bones, skin, clothes
to gases. Doctor,
if only you could see
how heaven pulls earth into its arms
and how infinitely the heart expands
to claim this world, blue vapor without end.


We had really nice weather on Saturday, so after lunch, we went downtown with my parents to the Phillips Collection to see Seeing Nature: Landscape Masterworks from the Paul G. Allen Family Collection, a gorgeous collection of European and American art from the past several centuries, including Brueghel the Younger's Five Senses paintings and artistic descendants of Turner from both the Impressionist and Hudson River schools. We also walked through most of the permanent collection.

My parents and Renoir's Luncheon of the Boating Party.

Impressionist and Post-Impressionist masterpieces from Paul G. Allen's collection.

Klimt's Birch Forest, one of the paintings belonging to Adele Bloch-Bauer recovered from Austria by her descendants, the subject of the film Woman in Gold.

The Rothko Room (a frequent subject of mocking among my family members).

The Phillips Collection's new permanent collection of German Expressionists.

Not my best photo of the day -- that was posing with the Easter Bunny display at the mall.

Outside the museum, flowers! Spring is coming!

It was overcast but there was spectacular light toward sunset.

After a stop at home to feed the cats and a walk to see the bunnies, we went with my parents to Blaze Pizza (feta and gorgonzola mmmmm). Then we came home, watched some Bones on DVD and Yanni's Live at the Pyramids concert on PBS, and now we're watching Saturday Night Live wrap up a week in political news that if it had been written as a parody or an Aaron Sorkin show, I'd have called over the top and ridiculous. In great news, Adam was inducted into the Mortar Board honor society!

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