What subtle orchard-thief has skulked about
To snip these luminous grapes my lips love so?
A chance breeze blows these candles, makes them billow,
And is just soft enough not to snuff them out.
But no, for a paintbrush you set aside the yarn
And spindle, and bested God: made endless spring;
And it was to the lily and the climbing
Rose you went for your colors, Madeleine.
Your beauty may be frail, not to endure,
Yet like flowers of one day lives nonetheless
Immortally: all the carnations, lilies,
Or lilacs you painted, Madeleine Lemaire.
But you—who will paint you, fair gardener
Who every spring brings forth so many flowers?
Mary Jo Salter
Mary Jo Salter is the author of nine books of poems published by Knopf, including Zoom Rooms (2022), The Surveyors (2017), and A Phone Call to the Future: Selected Poems (2008).Her book Nothing by Design was recipient of the 2015 Poets' Prize. She is a co-editor of three editions of The Norton Anthology of Poetry and is editor of the Selected Poems of Amy Clampitt. Salter is Professor Emerita in The Writing Seminars at Johns Hopkins University.
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