Today's poem is by Floyd Skloot
James McNeill Whistler
at St. Ives, 1883
Whistler needs no one to sit for him now.
He is finished with portraits, with people.
Finished with nocturnes too, soft edges,
the muted light of a coastal fogscape.
He needs surprise. He wants to be outside
with a panel of wood, a thumb box of colors
and brushes, and nothing to hold him in place.
Bring on the war of sea and shore, clouds
blown apart. Autumn daylight like a shock
to the heart stirs him to life. He is after
the spontaneity of a breaker turned back
on itself. What is a whitecap but a stroke
of wind on wave, the Lord's own breath
in a flash of foam? Away too long from storm,
from the sea's surge, he feels himself awaken
before the horizon's shifting form, where time
itself is visible to the naked eye, where a ship
caught in a trough struggles to right itself.
Copyright © 2004 Floyd Skloot All rights reserved
from The Southern Review
Reprinted by Verse Daily® with permission
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