Opening the door for the first time since
your brain hemorrhaged, you looked so trim and well
(in black and white) you could almost convince
us both you were whole. Your living room welled
with light, the wall above the couch arranged
with your watercolors. “I hung them myself,”
you said proudly. Almost nothing was changed
(except for the attendant, making herself
small by sitting silently.) You’re witnessed now,
as you’ve witnessed me. “May I have a painting?”
I’d been afraid to ask, but I did somehow.
“You really want one of my paintings?
Then come in here.” Your bedroom? But I was
your patient! Before your brain bled. Yes, was.
I followed you into the narrow room:
plain as plain. Like a nun’s cell, the bed,
a single pallet, no headboard, a deep red
blanket instead of a coverlet. Blood bloom.
Nuns fret not at their narrow convent’s room.
No one could climb into that cot but one.
A tall row of wooden cabinets. One
you opened, and small paintings that had loomed
above my head (as I’d lain on your couch
and talked about, around, for, yet, because…and wept)
you brought out now from where you slept.
Your pallet. Next to your palette.
Red blanket like a hemorrhage contained
after a time bomb exploded your brain.
The painting I chose was small: two lemons
against a blue background, one with a tip,
salmon-colored. An aureola? Lemons,
tart companions of the senses, the tip
of a world, mute on a piece of paper
folding out and beyond and inward and
onto the contours of the conquered land
of your mind, landmined. We’re. Were.
You laid the yellow watercolor down
on your bed, a camp cot for the wounded
in a tent pitched on a plot of scanty ground.
Fret not. Fret you not. Forget-me-not: found.
So I lifted it up—then laid it in this frame
now on my wall. Hourly I pass your name.
Widely anthologized, Molly Peacock’s poetry is included in The Oxford Book of American Poetry, as well as in leading literary journals such as the Times Literary Supplement and Poetry. She is the author of six volumes, including The Second Blush, and Cornucopia: New & Selected Poems both published by W.W. Norton and Company. Peacock’s latest book of nonfiction is both a biography of 18th-century collage artist Mary Delany and meditation on late-life creativity, The Paper Garden: An Artist Begins Her Life’s Work at 72, published by Bloomsbury USA & UK. Visit her on the web at www.mollypeacock.org.