Poems

Painter Poem

In today’s prompt, Brewer suggests titling a poem with the name of a painter and then writing the poem.

Artemisia Gentileschi

The magical properties of artemisia
absinthium include the opening of the third eye,
general enhancement of psychic awareness,
profound protection, and the banishment
of anger and negativity. If you steep it
in your vodka with some anise and fennel,
you might see a fairy dressed in green.

The name didn’t save her, though,
unless it brought her the visions,
showed her the most vibrant color
for blood, gave her the fire
to hold to her truth
when they tightened the screws
to her artful thumbs.

The paintings are angry enough–
there’s little evidence that emotion
was banished from her soul,
but Judith’s eyes hold something else–
a knowing? a determination? a getting
down to business?–as she severs
the general’s head. And her handmaid
is equally attentive to the task.
They could be butchering a cow.

Likewise, Jael looks meditative
as she holds the hammer aloft
to drive the spike into the skull
of Sisera. She could be gazing
into the watery vision of a crystal ball
or tucking in a sleeping child.

That anger, unbanished,
transformed itself to purpose,
exposing the sins of the patriarchs,
showing the bloody strength
of women doing what must be done.

Her colors were her arsenal,
those tortured hands wielding
her paintbrushes like weapons.
She mined the hidden stories
of the Bible to tell and retell
her own story: observer, victim,
vanquisher, and hero. In the end,
perhaps, her name revealed
the layers she could look into.

What do you think?

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