Planting a tree for a newborn child.
Both lives require great patience and trust.
There is the concern for its survival,
no matter how much care and attention
we give. No guarantees in this garden.
My poem’s title alludes to both John Steinbeck’s novel East of Eden and his inspiration in the Bible’s book of Genesis (Chapter 4, verse 16) with the story of Cain and Abel: “And Cain went out from the presence of the Lord, and dwelt in the Land of Nod, on the east of Eden”
The Basket of Apples (1895) – Paul Cezanne
Arrangements of fruit, flowers, glasses, a violin,
objects seemingly unconnected, not unlike my own
still lifes, unpainted, unsketched, preserved in words,
sharing a reflected surface, each a self-portrait.
Life is never still. But we try.
Vanitas with Violin and Glass Ball (1628) – Pieter Claesz
ABOUT THE PAINTINGS:
I first heard about Cezanne’s apples via a quote by Ernest Hemingway that sent me to the library to find the paintings. Cezanne brought back still lifes and made it a popular subject for Picasso, Matisse, Morandi, and Braque. I like that some objects (bottle, basket, fruits) are unbalanced. They are tilted and the whole composition is unlike the balanced and precise placements of earlier still lifes such as those from the Dutch Golden Age. Pieter Claesz was known for his vanitas or still lifes which contain symbols of death or change as a reminder of their inevitability. Shown here is his most famous painting which contains amongst the many objects a glass sphere which shows him at the painting at his easel.
Ghosts ask “Does it trouble you that
you haven’t done more with this marvelous
life God gave you?” “No,” I reply.
“And it doesn’t trouble me about all
the sadness and loss God gave me.”
Back in school, cheat sheets tempted us
with answers to questions at our fingertips.
Oh, to have a life cheat sheet!
Access to answers to life’s toughest questions.
A chance to ace all the exams.
The sign was there to warn us,
but not everyone paid attention, and anyway,
we need to get to the end
of this rough road. And it’s hard.
Grip the wheel. And keep moving forward.
after many autumns, winters and final fall
is rings – a dendrochronology of historical context,
environmental conditions, and possible future issues.
Earlywood, latewood, drought year, wet year, diseases –
no soul, but a body outliving life.