Ancient Artist’s Final Days

Alone his last weeks,
squirreled away in abandoned dune shack
sole window open to ocean’s ebb and flow.
Easel, sawhorse-table, canned goods,
sleeping bag and brushes. Minimal décor.

She’d left him years ago,
but each day she came closer.
Porcelain skin, barely blushed cheeks
velvet brown eyes as he remembered them,
brimming love.

Pale coral tinted mouth,
retouched each day.
Gently he brushes her lips,
moistens them as mornings dawn,
heart searing, needing her.

Ribboned strapless sheath
painted to reveal sultry throat, soft shoulders.
Delicate fingers hold blooming vine.
Each rose carefully painted,
petaled to life.

Until at last he smells her scent,
roses permeate his soul.
One last rose lovingly placed
centered within her crowning hair,
her essence complete.

And so he sleeps his final sleep
as gulls squall in the distance
and waves create his elegy.
His bluing lips smile in repose,
knowing she is nearby.

I am hosting at dVerse today, the virtual pub for poets around the globe. I’m delighted to have reconnected with artist Catrin Welz-Stein who is graciously allowing us to select one of four provided images as motivation for our poetic creations today. I’ve chosen the beautiful image above – it was hard to choose as all four are magical in my opinion. You can find more of her work here: Catrin Welz-Stein, Join us today to see art-inspired poetry – what is called ekphrastic poetry.

56 thoughts on “Ancient Artist’s Final Days

  1. Nancy Jahnke September 22, 2020 / 1:26 pm

    Lovely visual art produces lovely poetic art! Thank you!

    Sent from my iPhone

    >

    Liked by 1 person

    • lillian September 22, 2020 / 2:54 pm

      So glad you enjoyed, Nancy!

      Like

  2. Björn Rudberg (brudberg) September 22, 2020 / 2:39 pm

    what a tragic story… I almost imagined that she would come to life in the end (like Pygmalion)…. but maybe they came together in another way in the end.

    Liked by 2 people

    • lillian September 22, 2020 / 2:55 pm

      Yes….I think perhaps that’s why the smile is there. She is on the easel next to him….and somehow with him now. 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Lucy September 22, 2020 / 2:50 pm

    Wow, this is truly heartbreaking, and the descriptions are just so vivid; they come to life just like the portrait. I really loved the first stanza, such interesting word-choice and flow, it’s mesmerizing to read and take in. Another beautiful piece, Lillian. I throughly enjoyed reading it. ❤

    Liked by 2 people

    • lillian September 22, 2020 / 2:56 pm

      Thank you, Lucy. So glad you enjoyed! I will be really interested to see what folks do with the artwork choices for this prompt!

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Grace September 22, 2020 / 3:06 pm

    This is beautifully painted by the artist. Love the details of each rose. I also thought that she would come alive at the end.

    Liked by 1 person

    • lillian September 22, 2020 / 3:23 pm

      Maybe I should write a sequel?

      Like

  5. kim881 September 22, 2020 / 3:09 pm

    This is so gorgeous, Lill, a sad story brought to life with your words. I love that he retained an image of her that he brought to life in his art. These lines are so tender:
    ‘Gently he brushes her lips,
    moistens them as mornings dawn,
    heart searing, needing her.’

    These lines touched my heart:
    ‘And so he sleeps his final sleep
    as gulls squall in the distance
    and waves create his elegy.
    His bluing lips smile in repose,
    knowing she is nearby.’

    Liked by 1 person

  6. sanaarizvi September 22, 2020 / 3:15 pm

    This is breathtakingly beautiful, Lillian! 💝 I especially love the lines; “Pale coral tinted mouth,
    retouched each day.” We chose the same image! 😀

    Liked by 1 person

    • lillian September 22, 2020 / 3:25 pm

      I love the image….and somehow, being in Provincetown in Cape Cod….we took the car yesterday and drove out to the National Seashore…much “wilder” than the ocean scene at our deck which is kind of on the inside crook of the map of Ptown….we saw the duneshacks and that inspired this.
      PS: I knew, as a romantic, that you would choose this image! 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

      • sanaarizvi September 22, 2020 / 3:27 pm

        Haha 😀 Guilty as charged! 💝💝 Sigh I love the ocean 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

  7. Beverly Crawford September 22, 2020 / 3:37 pm

    Oh my! This is marvelous, Lillian, What a beautiful write!

    Liked by 1 person

  8. msjadeli September 22, 2020 / 3:43 pm

    Lillian, your story gave me a scalp tingle, which means all neurons firing. I love how he “brushes her lips” and how “roses permeate his soul.” My heart goes out to the dying artist and aches with the comfort he finds in knowing her image will watch over his corpse. SO GOOD!

    Liked by 1 person

    • lillian September 22, 2020 / 3:48 pm

      Well….I’ve neve had anyone respond to my poetry with a tingling scalp before! 🙂 So glad you liked it. Somehow, after having been at the national seashore in Cape Cod, hearing about the dune shacks there that artists use during the summer months….and being here in Provincetown with our deck right at the ocean in high tide….this ancient artist came to mind! Go figure!

      Liked by 1 person

      • msjadeli September 22, 2020 / 5:01 pm

        After reading your comment, it makes me wonder if the old artist isn’t still walking up and down the shore and wanted someone to share his story…

        Like

  9. Carol J Forrester September 22, 2020 / 3:45 pm

    I’m getting Pygmalion’s bride vibes from this, beautifully written. I was struck by how vivid the sense of her scent came across. That bit of the poem really envelopes the reader.

    Liked by 2 people

    • lillian September 22, 2020 / 3:49 pm

      Thank you, Carol. I was struck by the details, the romance of this image….and tried to write the details into his painting her portrait. Glad you enjoyed!

      Like

  10. Glenn A. Buttkus September 22, 2020 / 5:07 pm

    You just blossom with the challenge, creating such a vivid time, place and message–tender, gritty, creative, fetching, finding the pathos of the last blush of love. It reminds me of the end of Hemingway’s THE OLD MAN AND THE SEA, when he smiles as he “dreams of lions”.

    Liked by 2 people

    • lillian September 22, 2020 / 7:05 pm

      Thank you, Glenn. I always value your replies and this one is just a wonderful response to read. Thank you!

      Like

    • lillian September 22, 2020 / 7:06 pm

      Exactly. A labor of love….painting each aspect of this woman as he remembered her…perhaps he’s a widower? Perhaps she was a lover who jilted him? It was a long time ago….and he, nearing his time of death, wants to be with her again. And so he paints her…..

      Liked by 1 person

  11. Truedessa September 22, 2020 / 8:23 pm

    You truly used words to paint this poem. There is a deep sadness with each brushstroke. Then the ending, breathless.

    Liked by 1 person

    • lillian September 23, 2020 / 2:00 pm

      Thank you so much! Had never done this form of poetry so it was fun to try and write it, true to the art work. Glad you enjoyed!

      Like

  12. rothpoetry September 22, 2020 / 8:34 pm

    A really wonderful poem. You write like a painter as well as a poet! Love the story of the final painting…. Bluing smile knowing she is near… Very well done, Lillian.

    Liked by 1 person

    • lillian September 23, 2020 / 2:00 pm

      Thank you so much. Your comment made my day….really appreciate it!

      Liked by 1 person

  13. robtkistner September 22, 2020 / 8:43 pm

    Painted himself to death for love, wow Lillian — I loved it. Very sad and sensual.

    Liked by 1 person

    • lillian September 23, 2020 / 2:01 pm

      Thanks, Rob. Her images are magical, right? They so easily become a muse for me!

      Like

      • robtkistner September 23, 2020 / 2:45 pm

        I much prefer images as a prompt to which to write poetry. An image truly allows you to delve the depth and breadth of one’s creative vision. That said, I will create poetry to any inspiration. My least favorite is writing within a given poetic form. I feel more like I am constructing a poem, as I do with my mixed media art — but it is still creation. I am purchasing a medium-sized, stretch canvass print of Catrin’s “Homeward Bound”. Love her stuff, and thank you again for bringing her to my attention. I am taken by surreal art! 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

  14. Mary (tqhousecat) September 22, 2020 / 8:54 pm

    Wow, this is heartbreaking to know this is all he has left of her, and he had to paint her back into existence.

    Liked by 1 person

    • lillian September 23, 2020 / 2:01 pm

      Exactly…you’ve got the story I tried to convey. Don’t you just love her images? 🙂

      Like

  15. Ingrid September 23, 2020 / 12:47 am

    You’ve captured the essence of the painting so beautifully, Lillian. I think it’s appropriate that the artist is reunited with his muse in death, because there’s something other-worldly about his love for her.

    Liked by 1 person

    • lillian September 23, 2020 / 2:02 pm

      Thank you, Ingrid. So very glad you enjoyed this one…..I am so smitten by her images but this one just seemed so beautiful to me! 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  16. Victoria Stuart September 23, 2020 / 8:02 am

    Such a gorgeous tribute to creativity, Lillian. Revealing a story of how inspiration, taken to it utter limits and acted upon, can access other worlds. Your verse spins layers and layers, hinting of what transpired in the artist’s youth, the simple devotion to his craft that requires minimal decor, how even in his death, he smiles with the insights that he’s reached through the time-space continuum to touch her in her innocent radiance. Well, a verse that can open up fantastical realms is stellar, and you’ve done it! A joy to read.

    Liked by 2 people

    • lillian September 23, 2020 / 2:04 pm

      Thank you thank you, Victoria! You have seen everything I tried to put into it….the title Ancient Artist was to capture the idea that he is nearing death and this woman was in his life a long time ago…you’ve gotten the layers and the meaning. I thank you immensely! 🙂
      PS: I am so so sorry I had to delete your poem….in terms of copyright issues, I really had no choice. I do hope you understand. I value your presence so much here at dVerse.

      Like

  17. Max September 23, 2020 / 9:07 am

    Beautiful. Sublime, Lillian. Just in awe.

    Liked by 1 person

  18. lynn__ September 23, 2020 / 11:47 am

    What a peaceful passing for the ancient artist…to know true love and loveliness!

    Liked by 1 person

    • lillian September 23, 2020 / 2:05 pm

      Yes….that smile on his face, and the completed portrait by his side, says it all. 🙂 So glad you enjoyed.

      Liked by 1 person

  19. merrildsmith September 23, 2020 / 2:55 pm

    So sad, and so vivid. I can tell this story is true came alive to you–I feel like i lived it, too.

    Liked by 1 person

    • lillian September 23, 2020 / 6:06 pm

      Thank you, Merril. So glad you enjoyed it. I am truly smitten with Catrin’s artwork….it is almost magical to me.

      Liked by 1 person

  20. memadtwo September 23, 2020 / 9:10 pm

    He conjured a reconnection with his art…i do think that happens. (K)

    Liked by 1 person

  21. Stine Writing September 23, 2020 / 11:08 pm

    Wow, that is a beautiful poem and it goes with the picture perfectly. You can almost feel how sad he has been all these years without her but he hasn’t forgotten one detail of her!

    Liked by 1 person

    • lillian September 24, 2020 / 9:17 am

      Exactly! She is etched in his memory….and now she is there beside him for his last breath, recreated by him, for himself alone.

      Liked by 1 person

    • lillian September 24, 2020 / 9:18 am

      Thank you! So glad you enjoyed.

      Like

  22. Dora September 24, 2020 / 11:05 am

    The painted rose/lover “petaled to life” even as the artist dies: I’m in awe of this exquisite conceit.

    Like

  23. purplepeninportland September 24, 2020 / 9:04 pm

    “She’d left him years ago,
    but each day she came closer.”

    Prophetic. a poem that burns.

    Like

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