Farewell, Houses at Chatou!

Farewell, Houses at Chatou!
Back to Chicago you must go.
This will be my final study
Of how chaos so vivid
Gets twisted into houses, trees,
A lone passerby—he moves
Hunched through the ground cover
That flames orange and gold, upending
How we look at trees’ shadows.
I see myself sprint through the scene
On the left, behind the green.
No, that isn’t really me,
But the houses are as they might be,
Hardworking behind the scene,
Honest reds, whites, blues, and clean.

My dear Houses, I don’t think
Your homes matter that much
Beyond being an artist’s trick
That divides earth and sky.
But since this may be our last visit,
I must press on with greater things,
Like how Van Gogh presents himself
In the whole and how your thick,
Textured strokes both suspend and invite belief.

Farewell, Houses at Chatou,
Back to Chicago you must go!
I may never see your trees wave
Again as to my cheer they have
These six months, blocks of color
One atop the other,
A smattering of arms that salute the
Houses beneath the green-hued
Sky with menacing borders.
What you finally suggest
I could only but guess.
That will remain forever
Submerged in the red-blue pond.



Author’s note: Maurice de Vlaminick’s Houses at Chatou visited the Kimbell Art Museum in Fort Worth in 2013-2014. I saw the exhibit three times, and a fourth time I returned just to visit Houses before it started its journey back home. No Internet rendering can do justice to its brilliant thickness.

© Beth Henary Watson 2014