Once upon a time – it was a dark and stormy night, as I recall, my poor heart in turmoil, my tongue let loose upon the world in verse and worse – once upon a time, when I was younger, quite a lot younger in fact, and of course much less sensible than I am now, now when I think and talk mostly in prose, I was a writer of pomes, long and short, a few of them published, in little (very little) magazines but most of them – not that there are many – folded in darkness, and to all intents lost.
But now, as I sort through boxes of old letters, photographs, scribblings, mementos, the big clean-up in preparation for our return to Toronto, a fistful of old poems have resurfaced. Some of them I think had best remain in the cupboard, and a few, for the sin of bad writing, belong in the dustbin. But there are a few – just a few – that I might allow out, for a spin down the driveway or a night at the ball, before midnight strikes and the party is over.
I call this the Lost Poetry Project, and here is a modest first instalment.
Matisse's Painting of a Nude In Matisse's painting of a nude the woman sits with her back to us, arms lifted up, doing her hair. Paint moulds her body; it is as if Matisse's fingers, without a brush, by pure feel, have touched and shaped her into life. Domesticity and love: her tender curves, her weight, sturdy yet delicate - the intimacy and trust of a moment held forever in Matisse's mind. Feeling her presence, stillness, almost imagining her scent, I realise it is not the painter who has shaped the girl - it is she who has filled his heart, moulded thought and feeling into one, and projected herself there. So this year rises in my mind: everything you have said, gesture, touch, inhabits these spaces and re-creates you here.