Considering Elaine de Kooning’s Self-Portrait #3

Everything was a matter of tension.
……………………….. – Elaine de Kooning

Is she the small thunder
on either side of my house
on a smock-blue day
as neighbors roll
trash bins to the curb,
rid themselves of all
they don’t want or need?
Or the half-drawn valentine
on the back of the chair
where she sits
in this painting?
Or even the reflection
of a chickadee—a tiny tornado
at the glass window
of my front room?
As I move towards her and away
I am afraid she is
the echo of Willem,
a cigarette normally snug between
her fore and middle finger
like a coiled seraph: not there.
An early self-portrait.
A coffee cup and ashtray
clean and as empty as her
sketch book. So many hard
angles: the tapestry, the photos,
the sharp cut of her hair,
the ghostly pages she reveals.
What is left out
of a portrait is as important
as what is put in.

Didi Jackson

Didi Jackson

Didi Jackson is the author of Moon Jar (Red Hen Press, 2020). Her poems have appeared in the New Yorker, New England Review, Ploughshares, and elsewhere. After having lived most of her life in Florida, she currently lives in South Burlington, Vermont, teaching creative writing at the University of Vermont.
Didi Jackson

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Author: Didi Jackson

Didi Jackson is the author of Moon Jar (Red Hen Press, 2020). Her poems have appeared in the New Yorker, New England Review, Ploughshares, and elsewhere. After having lived most of her life in Florida, she currently lives in South Burlington, Vermont, teaching creative writing at the University of Vermont.