‘Even if I could have done when I was young what I’m doing now –
and it is what I dreamed of then – I wouldn’t have dared.’ Henri Matisse
In his early eighties – a magician
in colours with his (genuinely)
lovely assistant, Lydia – Matisse
creates a canvas, twenty five foot
by eleven, of pinned-on then glued-on
painted paper cut-outs of fronds and fruits,
in many colours, and a profound blue
parakeet and a profound blue mermaid –
seductive, tropical and teeming…
his Oceania revisited,
his northener’s revelation of the south.
There are parakeets – befittingly green –
in the Surrey Hills and mermaids rumoured,
hair flowing fast, far upstream in the Wey.
There are, for certain, by Afon Conwy
sea lavender, thrift and birds foot trefoil
and, in the channels the low tide forms,
curlews and egrets wading and the sea-racked,
black struts of wrecks. Beyond are the purple, mauve,
lilac mountains…my epiphany, my south.
I cut and paste at will and muse with my
‘assistant’ of so many years – lovely,
genuine – on art, youth and aspiration.
Had I known when I became a poet
half a century ago that I could write
this then would I have dared?