Talking Back to a Portrait Hanging on the Wall
(by Cate Riedl)
Nan, you are sunday morning the french quarter
your eyes tell me
you spend the night at Napoleons
sitting next to a window with no glass
drinking some kind of whiskey
while that guy with the dark skin
played a saxophone in the corner.
This painter sat across from you
bought you drinks
asked about Natchez
and why did you drop out of Tulane?
Summer is slow
iced coffee goes down like an elixer
ceiling fans hypnotize
and that man on the corner
who calls himself a chessmaster
talks of going up north to the resorts in the Catskills
where you should be.
Instead, you let yourself become beguiled
by this funny, little man
calling himself an artist,
trying to get you into bed
begging to paint you.
Now, on sunday morning in the french quarter
you sit in his studio
listening to his whiskey filled sighs
and the swirling fan above
you're just about to smile
when he says, "hold it."
You're no Mona Lisa, Nan
crimped blond hair is sassy
and polka dots too bold to seduce
but he painted you anyway,
even gave you a baby chick to hold in your palm
while you held in laughter
on sunday morning in the french quarter.
(from Wisconsin Poets at the Elvehjem Museum of Art)