“The Painter’s House,” by Adrienne Rich

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“The Painter’s House,” by Adrienne Rich, appeared in MQR’s Winter 2004 issue.


Nineteen-thirties midwestern
–the painter long gone to the sea–
plutonic sycamore by the shed
a mailbox open mouthed
in garden loam a chip
of veiny china turned up
where he might have stood

eyeing the dim lip of grass
beyond, the spring stars sharpening
above

Well since there’s still light walk around
stand on the porch
cup hands around eyes peering in

Is this the kitchen where she worked and thought
Is that the loft where their bodies fell
into each other The nail where the mirror
hung the shelf where her college books
eyed her aslant
Those stairs would her bare feet have felt?

In the mute shed no trace
of masterworks occult
fury of pigment no
downslash of provocation
no whirled hands at the doorjamb
no lightning streak no stab in the dark
no sex no face


Image via Ken Rowland.

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