A poem that pays tribute to the power of art in a time of grief.
The art here is a painting by an unidentified artist entitled “Flowers in a Vase.” The thick yellow paint of the petals reach down and stay with the speaker as young girl on a class outing. The yellow paint is suddenly everywhere: in the child’s starched uniforms, on the perfect walls, on the road and on the river as seen from the bus as she travels home. Was the surreal nature of the paint’s effect a sign of what would come? Or did she sense the turn of events about to happen, was she left susceptible to a visceral effect of the thick yellow paint, in a sense, the power of art? Once home, she finds family members assembled and her father in grief. A special connection is made with her mother in the form of a gesture, that of pressing foreheads to connect with another in grief, something she learned from her mother, the deceased. There is a wonderful link to the painting made in the last few lines as the family turns from grief to decide “where the visiting aunts would sleep/ and “who would order the flowers.” A deftly written lyric narrative with questions left open for the listener.