from Flowers in Wartime


Nan Averts the War

I come home from my shambles of a class, and Nan
has been donating art to Saddam Hussein in return
for his cooperation in disarmament.  I understand
how hours of radio out in her studio can turn
her daydreams into Messiah fantasies.  She’s presented
with the Academy Award® for Peace.  My students can’t learn
how, through subordination, to hold two contradictory ideas together,
while she keeps a whole alternate world going in her head
that makes her happy.  I feel shut out by a fence,
like a refugee stalled in a shadowy pen.  In bed
the news lullabies me to sleep with the bold
pronouncements of generals.  If I could find a way instead
to roll over into my dreams, the way she does.  Or hold
hope and this earth together in one sentence.

Red Boats, Argenteuil (1875)

Not much wind on this summer’s day, but some.
The leaves on the poplars on the river bank are flipped,
silver side up, the water’s rippled, and one
or two boats have hoisted sails.  A page ripped
from an idyll.  Only good weather.  Only five
white ducks on the left, and a bright red boat, squat
and sun-warmed in the foreground.  The wriggling line
of its mast melting into the water.  Along the horizon
some sort of clouds.  Fog (which can look dark).  Or smog
from the Paris smokestacks Monet left out.  Only one
brick house, with a terra cotta roof.  The Fogg
owns this painting and usually shows it.  I’ve come here
to live beneath those poplars.  That window (reflecting blue)
will be my room, with billowing curtains, and a river view.

cover art:  Nan Hass Feldman, Alan at Work, mixed media

All proceeds from Flowers in Wartime go to the children’s scholarship fund at Danforth/Art.  To receive a signed, limited edition copy, send a contribution ($20 suggested) to the museum at

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