unsigned painting: artist unknown
To the Artist of the Unsigned Painting
by Donna K. Pflueger
Why didn’t you counsel the drunken fence
before it stumbled along to escape this weary frame?
Or mend the livestock pen and fill it
with full-bellied goats? Your farmhouse is dying
as planks of rough-hewn wood splinter,
age to thirsty gray while blooms of crab apple trees
feed on the roof, smother windows and block
the pallid light from a sky that has given up
its clouds. Not one coneflower shivers
in the breeze to spread its seed; no child’s
playful step imprints upon the bluestem grass.
You plant after-thoughts of a life in stern soil:
father, son, farmhand, their faces hiding
behind wide-brimmed hats as they slouch
their shoulders. You leave their feet unseen
like shackled roots of a past that cannot be freed.
Ah, but the woman with broad brown cheekbones,
hair the hue of wisdom, her legs spread wide
beneath a long skirt. She sits upon a bench and watches
as you drape a blue shawl over her shoulders,
and with your final brushstroke,
you grace her with a smile.
~ first published in Mobius, The Poetry Magazine