Poem: Learning to See

Wheatfield Crows by Van Gogh

Learning to See

I believe it was art that taught me to see my colors,
a big coffee table book of Titian and Botticelli,
lurid and rich, all flowing robes and skin,
improbably perfect skin, colors saturated
beyond anything the real world had to offer.

Renoir taught me the color of faces,
the slight blush, youth before I was myself a youth.
Rembrandt taught me contrast. Light and dark,
the power of each. Van Gogh? Greens and yellows.
He taught me Tuscany, though I do not think
he ever lived there. The colors were there.
Picasso? the power of shape, of incongruence,
playfulness, all line and color and
the breaking of rules.
Goya taught me the blues, before I heard a single singer,
his tortured paintings seemed to capture my own emotions
as a child.
It was not always comfortable.
Dali taught me the color of outrageousness. Daring.
Don’t tell me it is not a color. It most certainly is,
coloring everything worth having in my life,
when I have had the courage.
And Monet? Monet taught me the power
of subtlety. His colors soft, one flowing lovingly
into another. More like life than life itself.
Truth. Because of Monet I fell in love
with gardens and Venice.

All this, before I could read.
Before any teacher could wrestle my unruly mind
and try to tell me why this artist or that is important.
I did not need to be told. I knew. I know still today,
my vision, how I see, made into something
not quite mainstream, 26% brighter, my inner world
a lurid pulp fiction novel cover, with class.

About this poem.

I really do think how I see color came from a childhood looking at art books. At times the art seemed more real than reality. Seeing as it should be, not as it was. My glasses aren’t rose-colored, they are artist-colored. And frankly, even if it makes me a bit much in the way i see, I like it that way.


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