Renoir's Hands...A Poem



Like a knuckle-busted fighter

with far too many punches thrown,

old Renoir's hands, arthritic joints,

stark fingers will not fold, unfold;

furled flags of battle-beaten state.

Nose bold as beak, sharp skull fisting

harshly through fainting, fragile flesh;

haunted eye, near to nudging death,

all signs present and corrosive.

Soon in casket with brass fittings,

hunch-backed under his umbrella.


Where sun-filled scenes of yore with young Monet, Renoir

in search of life and color at La Grenouillere;

paint-shard river, trees in springtime froth, finding

what paint can do to capture light, a holiday?

Now...somehow...a paint brush wedged through rigid digits

yet waves in brave pursuit of giant, fecund nudes.


Think you worn things like Renoir's hands

are accidents in flawless plan,

incidents of no consequence?

What if there is something wrong

with the very structure of the world;

as wrong as Renoir's wary hands?


Why the infant -- why the man — dead by dread design?

These are crimes -- crimes! -- on man by god.

Shrink not from thought behind the comfort of cliches.

This is not tragic normalcy.

Such things are not "the way of life" that we ignore

...until such instance roosts on us.

Ask now, oh man, while strength and time permit, while life

of living flesh adheres to you.


Copyright by Don Gray


Don Gray Art  •  Poems