Sunday 7 March 2021

Five Poems by Tom Montag



"The Woman in an Imaginary Painting"


If she could speak

she would say

Do not make things

up. Stay true.


She would stay

true to the light

coming in

the window,


to the yellow

wall behind her,

to the sweet blush

of her bosom,


the line of her

symmetry. She

would say there

is no imagination


needed in a world

as lovely as this

is. Stay true. Do

not make things up.




"The Woman in an Imaginary Painting"


Sky out the window

as blue as if

a storm has blown through


and rinsed the air.

Her eyes are that blue.

The light is as dust


is when settling

into a corner.

The most observant


artist can't account

for everything, nor can

the poet. The woman


in the painting posed

in the naked brightness

of that moment,


which leaves us to ask

was there ever

any more than this?




"The Woman in an Imaginary Painting"


No one has spoken

of the smell of paint.


No one has spoken

of the smell of the painter

sweating as he worked.


No one has spoken

of the kitchen smells

lingering that morning

as he painted her.


No one needs to speak

of such things. They are

always implied.




"The Woman in an Imaginary Painting"


Perhaps you think a work of art

is like a god. That the soul's

something greater inhabits each.


That the woman in the painting

knows this, and this is why she bows

her head. Perhaps it is why we


stay here with this poem, waiting

some godliness of our own for

her, and some of hers, too, for us.




"The Woman in an Imaginary Painting"


And if I could touch

the woman in the painting


would she sing as if

she'd entered heaven?


Would she shudder as if

God had touched her? Would


God touch me that way too?




Tom Montag's books of poetry include: Making Hay & Other Poems; Middle Ground; The Big Book of Ben Zen; In This Place: Selected Poems 1982-2013; This Wrecked World; The Miles No One Wants; Imagination's Place; Love Poems; and Seventy at Seventy. Two new collections, The River Will Tell You and Maybe Holy: Six Old Monk Poems are forthcoming. His poem 'Lecturing My Daughter in Her First Fall Rain' has been permanently incorporated into the design of the Milwaukee Convention Center. He blogs at The Middlewesterner. With David Graham he recently co-edited Local News: Poetry About Small Towns.

These poems are selections from Tom's on-going series "The Woman in an Imaginary Painting." None of these poems has been previously published and they are not being considered elsewhere.

Please note that all of the poems are untitled.


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