Poet’s Corner Press

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Fresco

By Nancy Wahl

She stood there, not tip-toe like Keats
upon his little hill reaching for beauty,

but all atwitter in white shorts and tennies
on my front porch.  So much brightness
she was: her yellow blouse, sun

reflected in her eyes, love
of her new husband on her skin.
They had planted a garden

and, good neighbor, she was bringing
me a basket of bright red
vine-ripened tomatoes—her young bride’s

smile rousing memories
of my own beginnings—summers
at Lake Tahoe, a first kiss:

my Winandermere shores
around which I would wander in youthful
ecstasies, elated, with unbearable

anticipations: fears growing like mountain lichen
in my unconscious—always the sense
there must be endings.  On a television

documentary, a young woman in overalls
spent days painting a mural
on the walls of an empty warehouse, nonstop,

climbing ladders, listening to Gregorian chants,
her fingers bleeding
as she feverishly created images rivaling

the Renaissance masters.  One public showing
only and it was sandblasted away—her art being
a demonstration of transience, of seeing beauty

in its mortality.  But I think Keats saw more—
saw it in the eternal, picked it out of the sky.
And, while he was an old
softie, he must have been dead serious, too,
working his words into all those passionate colors.
It’s only been a few months since the bride    
brought me the tomatoes and I feel
an ethereal, boundless thing now
as I remember how she shined that day

and how the chemo
that she would later have to take
didn’t save her—and how, like Keats’ goldfinches

pausing upon their yellow flutterings,
she had stood there on my porch
in all her eager happiness
laying on her colors.

Category: Poems

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