Nelson County, Virginia
We were tickled to receive this submission penned by BRL reader David Peyton of Wintergreen. We love getting feedback on our stories and this time, David’s feedback came in the form of a poem, inspired by our cover story of en plein air artists gathering at Three Beeches, a recently renovated farmhouse in Roseland.
THREE PAINTING PICTURES
The red roof is an obbligato
as three different painters render
this decaying barn; others portray
the well-restored farmhouse,
a more worthy subject, yes?,
yet the neglected seems to entice
as much as the renewed.
The woman wears a light blue shirt
untucked, long sleeves rolled up, light pants,
and a broad-brimmed straw hat
with a great big lavender bow,
palette in her left, brush in her right,
seeking to capture the multigreen
tuftedness of the wooded hillside.
The man is poised and dressed the same
but for the lack of a bow –
a thick double band will do.
He is just starting out, with bold dark
authoritative outlines to give form –
the ridges here in the Blue Ridge,
the outlines of the barn.
Finally there is the girl,
from whose angle the sloping lawn
makes one side appear to sink down.
With no adult care to detail or form,
she renders the weathered wood siding
with vertical abandon and trees with swirls,
as if she had just seen the play about Rothko
where the artist, after an hour of talk
about history and theory,
makes a frenzied assault on a huge canvas.
She makes the building look tall and narrow,
as if an old church. The roof gets redder,
befitting her short-sleeved white dress
with big multicolored polka dots.
The adults paint in the present, their work
headed perhaps for a gallery.
The girl’s work may wind up on a ‘frig,
yet she paints for the future.
Had there been a boy,
how might he have looked,
how might he have painted?
Labor Day, September 4, 2017, Wintergreen, Virginia
John Logan, Red (2010 Tony Award, Best Play)