his painting of Suzanne Leenhoff (Mrs. Edward Manet)He kept scraping the paint from the canvas.
After all those years of looking, he simply
couldn't see her face
clearly, and so he abandoned the work,
leaving it in its present incomplete
state. Yet what is is clear
is the feeling, the almost cavernous
passion his blear of stripped canvas catches,
suspends for us, which
is how my stippled memory holds, then
blanks you. It is perhaps a consequence
of love I can't hold
all of you in one frame of remembering.
Each memory scrapes another free
so that all I feel
undulates beneath an image of you
which changes as if you, not memory,
of color and light. Or perhaps he'd lost
the love which could move his imagination
to complete her, and
could not find in he play of memory
a face as true as the naked nubble his
scalpel left three times.
From MEMOIR (Chicory Blue Press, 1998)