Art Class

There is much that should be altered here.
The cloud in the left-hand corner
is not really necessary.
The two people who stand by the door
of the farm look far too homely.
I would transfer them to the fields
with bent and aching backs,
hoeing turnips, but not picking strawberries,
I think. Strawberries smack of decadence,
bringing marquees, or debutantes,
or even f?tes to mind.
The tree which stands behind the house
is too stark, so why not make it two.
And remove the birds.
Yes, cut out the ornithology.
People see too much of them anyway;
two wings, a beak, legs like an undercarriage.
Give me your brush,
and I will paint them out, so that it will be
as if they had never dotted your canvas.
The light’s not bad, not bad at all,
but it isn’t the kind of light we like to see
in paintings nowadays. Rather sombre,
I thought, as if the two lonely figures
in the field might soon pack up
and go home for tea.
This is the trouble with your work, you see:
it seems to have a life of its own.
For myself, I would have them drinking wine,
and lift the whole lot from Wales to Brittany.

from Two Women Dancing: New and Selected Poems (Bloodaxe, 1995), © Elizabeth Bartlett 1995, used by permission of the author and Bloodaxe Books Ltd.

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