Maurice Utrillo nu, assis sur un divan (1895)

« Il faut avoir le courage de regarder le modèle en face
…………. si on veut atteindre l’âme » SV

You have to look a model in the face
to apprehend the soul, you have to delve
down deep for truth, to tell that tale on canvas.
You have to look your model in the face,
no fakes, no kindness; truth a kind of grace.
This skinny little boy, her son, just twelve,
seems helpless in the spotlight of her gaze.
Too young, perhaps, to camouflage his Self,
it’s traced in shadows on his tiny face.
It’s clear she loves him, draws his awkward grace
with sympathy, his limbs as delicate
and soft as saplings. How can either tell
why he can’t look his mother in the face?

Bois d’Ombrie

for Seamus Heaney

It could be overwhelming in this room,
so many laurelled heads, their talk replete
with carrots dangled, first names dropped (assumed,
of course, one knows of whom the speaker speaks).
Post-prandial tobacco from the pouch,
tamped into pipes, exhales its sweetly damp
sienna on the air. We take the couch
(he seems to wish to flee his sycophants)
and warm the cognac offered, caramel
and fiery, in tiny crystal glasses.