Friday, 2 July 2010

Picasso on the Bus?

So, this isn't quite the Poetry Bus ticket I thought I'd go for earlier in the week. The instructions from Weaver were all about writing about a person and whilst I'm not really writing many new poems just now (blame the school holidays, the ongoing bereavement-related lack of concentration...) I did think I might post a couple of old poems about friends ('Unfulfilled Annie' and 'The loveliest girl' - both on my website in the 'other people' section of 'poems' if you're interested). Then in the last few days all I've been really thinking about is Mum so it seemed the right thing to do to post another mother poem. I wrote this a while back after viewing the painting by Picasso you can see above (in jpg form) called 'Mère et enfant' ('Mother and child'). The painting is in the Scottish National Gallery of Modern Art in Edinburgh and it is my very favourite piece of art in that building (it's quite a tiny painting but size, of course, means nothing... read what the gallery has to say about it here). The poem is about a person too of course, in part.

All there is

('Mère et enfant' Pablo Picasso 1902)

A doughnut of hair on the back of your head
A dumpling of laundry bound for the floor
What a picture

You're an almost floating cartoon mother
Slim with that impossibly curving frame
Your arms undone

And look how you hold so close, so soft
In your cracked, blue cloud-cave of a world
Lullaby focus

Mother and child, child and mother
It's a scraped, stark moment in time
That's all there is

RF 2009



Totalfeckineejit said...

I've never seen that painting before and I have to say it is truly beautiful, the colours are amazing too.
The poem (paintings often make good material for poems) is really very good.'Cracked' 'scraped' and 'stark' leap out at me for some reason.The softness of 'donut' and 'dumpling' lulls us in. 'Impossibly curving' hints at something else and the three lines at the end punch us in the face.This is possibly the best poem of yours I've read (so far!)

Rachel Fox said...

Very nice of you to say so. I entered it in a comp the Galleries joy though. I know these things are lotteries to an extent and all that but'd be nice to win once!

Gwei Mui said...

Rachel great poem - I love your description of her hair. Dumpling laundry this is so deliciously domestic.But the last verse...
"Mother and child, child and mother
It's a scraped, stark moment in time
That's all there is"
Your poem fits so well with the painting. Beautiful and rather lonely

Marion said...

I enjoyed the poem. What a gorgeous painting, I love Picasso. Like the colours of your book!

Rachel Fox said...

Thanks Gwei. It is one I like and feel a little proud of.

I'm not sure the colours look like my book in the gallery, Marion. Maybe the internet lights are misleading... My book was 2 years old last month - still haven't got round to sorting out that reviews page for the website!


Dominic Rivron said...

Particularly liked the doughnut and the dumpling - the images of comfort-food really fit the maternal theme.

Anil P said...

I liked the opening line.

A doughnut of hair on the back of your head

That's possibly what a child might say.

This is the first time I'm seeing this painting. There's such forlorn poignancy to the scene, as in providing succour to the child she's seeking succour herself.

The Weaver of Grass said...

Very beautiful Rachel - and I hope one small step on your way back to normality after the sad loss of your dear Mum. x

Rachel Fox said...

Much support for the doughnut!

I wrote this last year, Weaver, long before Mum's illness or anything like that...but yes, there is a lot of her in it. She was a very devoted mother (and grandmother) - a very good example of a human being all round really.


Eryl Shields said...

Brilliant: 'doughnut', 'dumpling' and laundry all so comforting, while 'cracked', 'scraped' and 'cave' imply that motherhood isn't all warm milk and snuggles.

The painting is great, I love that gallery and the Dean, must get back to them one of these days.

Titus said...

Loved this. "Lullaby focus" especially; and how those last three lines hit me.

Rachel Fox said...

Every time I go to that gallery, Eryl, I am really drawn to this little painting. I often wonder would it be so appealing if it was by an unknown artist (rather than the great PP). But I'll never know.

'Lullaby focus' is my favourite bit, T, certainly in terms of writing. One of those moments when I surprised myself!


Peter Goulding said...

To be honest, I prefer the poem to the picture but then I'm not much of an art critic. This Picasso, did he do anything else?

Rachel Fox said...

I could use that (changed a bit) - 'Rachel Fox - better than Picasso'.

I just love this picture - in the gallery anyway. It's small and unassuming in a gallery that's full of lots of big, shouty, look-at-me-aren't-I-outrageous modern art. I have seen the big famous Picassos (Guernica and so on) because I lived in Spain for a while and there are plenty there but I prefer his sketches/drawings and odd little paintings like this one. But then I am a bit contrary.


Poet in Residence said...

I agree with Peter. In my case I prefer P's late mad dashed off matadors and all that kind of thing. Poem's fine though.

Rachel Fox said...

That's Rachel 2 - Pablo 0. Not bad going...

Derrick said...

This is a side of Picasso that I could like, and I love the colours! Your poem tells of the sweetness and drudgery of motherhood and really does capture a moment that could combine devotion and despair.

Rachel Fox said...

Sweetness and drudgery...that's it exactly. It's worth going to the link at the gallery to read about the painting (if you haven't already). Thanks for looking in, Derrick.

Karen said...

I love the painting and the poem both. Beautiful word choice and perfect last line.

Rachel Fox said...

Thanks Karen. Much appreciated.