The Painter’s House

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Adrienne Rich’s poem “The Painter’s House” was first published by Michigan Quarterly Review in our 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 door-jamb
no lightning-streak no stab in the dark
no sex no face

Read more of Adrienne Rich, and others, in Michigan Quarterly Review’s Archives.

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