This photo, by Dan Meylor, was the inspiration for the following poem, “Learning How to Paint Light.” Over the past five years or so, Dan has grown incredibly as a photographer. This black and white, which he took a few years ago, made me realize clearly how far he’d come as a photographer — and as a storyteller in photos.
The poem was a finalist in the 38th Annual Mississippi Valley Poetry Contest through the Midwest Writing Center in Davenport, IA, and is one of two poems of mine included in Off Channel 2011.
I like a painting that makes me want to stroll in it.
Learning How to Paint Light
you’ve sent me photographs:
a man raking a labyrinth in beach sand at dawn,
a green hummingbird, a country church in Ireland,
a grandson singing.
you sent a black & white
of a woman strolling, from dark to light,
toward steps leading to a captured pyramid of sky
amid tangled skyscrapers.
They say when Monet first learned
how to paint light,
he had to reject tenets about sketching
before putting brush to canvas.
And Renoir loved a woman’s body
that he blended tints
of pearled flesh for hours.
My hands hold
what you have learned:
How to stand back when her maddened wings seek stasis,
to let her wander in ever-widening gyres
from your green touch, her boy.
we do what we must to live.
You loved a woman so much you learned
to blend light with flesh. Not to shape illusion,
but to help her find a way back
to a beach at dawn.