Premature Epitaph for A Painter (a request, process)

‘Noli Me Tangere’—Marie Fox, 2012

The other day my friend Marie Fox, the painter, was telling me about a self-portrait she’s working on (no, not the painting above—that’s one I stole from her artist page for this post). She said, “John, I think it needs an epitaph. Do you want to write an epitaph for me?” Of course I wanted to. And so I did, sort of, in non-rhyming couplets. And it was so much fun that I then took it and expanded and twisted it into a rough semblance of an old ballad (You’ll find the couplet version below the ballad).

Premature Epitaph for A Painter #2

When spicy tendrils of the lily’s scent
no longer climbed to linger in her nose
and the hollows of her clavicle,
we carried her where the sharks’ eggs lay.

And when her eyes could no longer see
the shades in lichen on the rocks, nor
her feet laugh in the moss under the trees,
we carried her down to the shoreline.

When her ears could not distinguish
between the thudding of a falcon’s heart
and the whistle of its tucked wings,
we carried her to the wide green sea.

And when her pensive lips relaxed,
and the tastes of wood and paint
and turpentine faded from her tongue,
we carried her down to the hungry sea.

We had no gold to make her bracelets,
so we wove a circlet of raven feathers
and mica stones into her raven hair
and carried her to the shoreline at evening.

We carried her down to the shoreline
the gulls harried in their mewling gloom
as clouds draped the sky in red and black.
We carried her down. We carried her down.

We carried her down to the turning tide
where green crabs scuttled at the edge of land.
We carried her down, we carried her down,
and clothed her in the green foam of the sea.


Premature Epitaph for A Painter #1

And when her eyes could no longer
See the shades in lichen on the rocks,

Or her feet drink in the moss under the trees,
And her ears could not distinguish between

The thudding of a falcon’s heart
And the whistle of its tucked wings.

When spicy tendrils of the lily’s scent
No longer climbed to linger in her nose,

And when her pensive lips relaxed
And the tastes of wood and paint

And turpentine faded from her tongue,
We wove a circlet of raven feathers

And lapis stones into her raven hair.
We carried her to the shoreline at evening

As a late storm draped the sky in red and black.
We carried her down to the shoreline

The gulls harried in their mewling gloom.
We carried her down. We carried her down.

We carried her down to the turning tide,
And clothed her in the green foam of the sea.

About John MacKenzie

I'll mumble for ya. Poetry, plus most things quantifiable: science, neuroscience, memory, epistemology, baseball. And so on.
This entry was posted in Art is lies, Art is theft, Ballad, Creativity, Death, Marie Fox, New poems, Poem tweets, Poetry, The Sea and tagged , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

One Response to Premature Epitaph for A Painter (a request, process)

  1. Pingback: Nothing Subtle (a poem by request) | Mumbling Jack

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