To Gauguin Dying In The Marquesas by John Grey

From eternally open windows,
you hear wind cavorting through palms,
a downpour, quick and sudden as a brushstroke,
the east-west dispersal of the waves.
Your body feels like a puddle on the sheets,
but your head’s perfect
now the ears have replaced the eyes,
tones filling in for hues,
the air outside for canvas.
Was that the fat woman whose legs
slapped together as she walked?
Or the fishmonger pushing his cart?
Or young girls giggling?
Unwashed, unfed, bed blisters,
a cobalt colored cough…
and yet gold bodied nudes pose
on the walls around you,
bathed in frond and pool and frangipani,
above cane chairs where friends,
ghosts and real, have sat and argued.
You’re still strong enough to live
but not to do what’s in you.
The next painting will have to struggle
with your weary body, fermenting lungs,
hands that no longer can do ordinary tasks.
You sacrificed everything to color.
Now the colors keep their distance,
as if there’s no way to repay.
A woman enters, once your lover,
now your nurse.
Your next work will be
the face of one who does not
wish to see you suffer.
Always the artist,
your breath sketches
while it can.

John Gray Copy
John Grey is an Australian poet, US resident. Recently published in New Plains Review, South Carolina Review, Gargoyle and Silkworm work upcoming in Big Muddy Review, Cape Rock and Spoon River Poetry Review.

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