Yesterday night, just minutes before my reading, I was editing, crossing out sentences, adding words with proofreader's marks. The pages was a mess, but I've learned to read through a mess, and the stories were better in last night out loud than originally written. I was thinking of what a poet friend in graduate school told me about the painter Bonnard, that he had a hard time leaving his paintings alone after they were purchased and hung. She told me Bonnard would often stand in museums, almost endlessly revising his paintings. And I'm not sure if that part is true or not or if that's a mythology she created in her poetry. Either way, it doesn't matter.
Tonight--idly Googling--I discovered that Raymond Carver (who's not known for his poetry, but whose stark poetry I used to teach to my creative writing students years ago) also wrote about Bonnard's nudes. The following poem is about the painting above (Lara, do you like Carver as a poet?):
by Raymond Carver
His wife. Forty years he painted her.
Again and again. The nude in the last painting
the same young nude as the the first. His wife
As he remembered her young. As she was young.
His wife in her bath. At her dressing table
in front of the mirror. Undressed.
His wife with her hands under her breasts
looking out on the garden.
The sun bestowing warmth and color.
Every living thing in bloom there.
She young and tremulous and most desirable.
When she died, he painted a while longer.
A few landscapes. Then died.
And was put down next to her.
His young wife.