Anna Mary Robertson Moses, aka Grandma Moses, is one of my inspirations. I do enjoy the quiet beauty of her landscapes that hearken back to what many consider simpler times, but what really captivates me is her story. Grandma Moses was 78 years old when she began painting in earnest— a fact that has delighted me since I first read it when I was a teenager. That she died in 1961—the year of my birth—only adds to her appeal.
As I plod along at age 62 working on the manuscript of my first full poetry book, I take great comfort in Anna’s late life bloom.
The picture below is one of several renditions the artist painted of her upstate New York childhood home. A large framed copy of this image hangs in my bedroom. One day it spoke to me. In the ensuing conversation we talked of color and time and the ineffable connection between the two. This poem, just published in Last Stanza Poetry Journal Issue #14, was born of that exchange.
Grandma Moses and the Color Wheel
Is it by aging alone
the past seems a little kinder,
slower, the colors of memory
draped across a wheel
not in a faded, washed-out way—
primaries freer to foray
into neighboring color yards,
where they were welcomed,
where some merged
and gave gracious birth
to delicacies like hushed misty
violet and tawny
ambered peach, a hundred nuances
of green, some leaning a little
oceanic, others yellowing
towards first-bud chartreuse?
A canvas over time,
like a life in retrospect,
can dinge its way
perhaps as much to malleate
needles of pain
into compost, into dust
as to Anna-Mary-Robertson-Moses
into rolling hills of farm hard-working harmony,
the kind that makes for night after night
of sound, sure sleep.
Published in Last Stanza Poetry Journal Issue #14, available HERE