After a week of struggling and another of lethargy, I’ve finally managed to come up with a poem. Although technically I’ve failed in my quest to write a poem a week, I’m not quitting. We’ll just sort of ignore that week of lethargy and pretend it didn’t happen.
I wish I could say that I was super busy or had to deal with a big emergency. But sadly that’s not the case. Although I do work two jobs, watch my granddaughter in Shawnee one night a week and scoop five litter boxes daily, that’s all normal stuff. I just didn’t feel like doing anything but sleeping or reading. So now that I’ve indulged myself…get thee behind me sloth!
I came up with the idea for this week’s poem after seeing my old art history teacher in the grocery store. That was one of my favorite classes of all time and what decided me to go for a minor in art history. I loved seeing the slides and hearing the stories. Though it was a more than two-hour class, it always ended too soon for me.
I’ve always contended that I wasn’t interested in history but somehow tying in the art and artists with what was going on in the world made it fascinating to me. History is mostly non-visual or what tangible changes it did make are so complete it’s hard to imagine how it was before. With a piece of art it’s like capturing some of that history. Though it’s been several years (and I don’t remember any of the required dates!) I love being able to look at a piece of artwork and be reminded of what was happening back then as well as appreciate the beauty.
So this is my attempt to recreate some of those long ago classes.
Art History Class
I enter the ordinary classroom
students sliding into seats,
peering at their cell phones.
The lights go down
the slides come up
we go back into history.
In Austria we meet the Venus
from Willendorf more that 20,000 years old
Tiny stone figure, voluptuous body,
her femininity exaggerated.
She sustains her people’s survival
in her thick thighs and pendulous breasts.
In Greece, Laocoön found out the hard
way – never go against the gods. Caught
in cold white marble, every feature, every tendril,
every contorted muscle and sinew exact.
Despair and agony forever captured as the serpents
perpetually entwine them all.
In 17th century Italy Caravaggio creates
dramatically lighted naturalism. Christ
is lowered into the tomb, sickly pale with death,
by the weather-reddened peasant with mud on his bare feet.
The stricken tableau bathed in light surrounded
by deep shadows. The painter’s life is darkness
and strife as his temper rules him to his early end.
The lights come up, we squint and blink.
Don’t forget, test next week and I groan.
Totally absorbed by the lecture,
my notepad is emtpy.