Once, you painted the bathers

nudging the landscape

with their nude bodies

to be noticed and nuanced by  light.


Their skin glowing on the bone

soft as fruit pulp

made the canvass ripe, grasped

by the hunger in those wanting

women and apples.


Now you are the bather

soaking your old hands

in ice water. The  bowl gleams

catching movements by your son

or his mistress — your latest model


sent by his mother

from an immortal garden

to please and pamper the house

with beauty.


On a good day

when your fingers have lingered

long enough in this cold bath,

you squeeze paint from their tubes:


titanium for her  shadow,

red ocher for her hair

and faint blue for veins

that define her translucent skin.


How you envy your oldest child.

He can touch her flesh, trace

the first flush of heat. You can merely look

from an artist’s chair

watching her sweetness — wash through


like the morning sun

through sheer silk or milk glass. Your dead wife’s curtains

and vase.


The painting is a self portrait by Auguste Renoir


  1. Wendy,

    You are so good with endings. This one is dynamic.
    I was so rapt with the poem and the last two lines
    really sealed the deal.

    As always I am amazed by your grace and talent.



  2. A small detail of Renoir’s life expands into a full-blown portrait of the man and his work, and a very fine portrait it is.


  3. Dear Craig, Sarah and Michael,

    Thank you all so much for your kind and generous comments toward this poem! I deeply appreciate them and am glad you enjoyed this one. Renoiir is a fascinating artist with an interesting life. I was inspired by a movie I saw in 2012 simply called “Renoir” which depicted the last years when suffered greatly with his arthritic hands and his son coming home tormented from WW!.

    Again, many thanks,
    take care and stay sare!

    My Best


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