Friday, February 21, 2014

Thank God for friends like Jane

February--and this has been the second worst month of 2014 for weather, the other being last month.

But today is Friday--and for that I bring you a glimmer of sunshine:

February by James Schuyler, from Selected Poems

A chimney, breathing a little smoke.
The sun, I can't see
making a bit of pink
I can't quite see in the blue.
The pink of five tulips
at five p.m. on the day before March first.
The green of the tulip stems and leaves
like something I can't remember,
finding a jack-in-the-pulpit
a long time ago and far away.
Why it was December then
and the sun was on the sea
by the temples we'd gone to see.
One green wave moved in the violet sea
like the UN Building on big evenings,
green and wet
while the sky turns violet.
A few almond trees
had a few flowers, like a few snowflakes
out of the blue looking pink in the light.
A gray hush
in which the boxy trucks roll up Second Avenue
into the sky. They're just
going over the hill.
The green leaves of the tulips on my desk
like grass light on flesh,
and a green-copper steeple
and streaks of cloud beginning to glow.
I can't get over
how it all works in together
like a woman who just came to her window
and stands there filling it
jogging her baby in her arms.
She's so far off. Is it the light
that makes the baby pink?
I can see the little fists
and the rocking-horse motion of her breasts.
It's getting grayer and gold and chilly.
Two dog-size lions face each other
at the corners of a roof.
It's the yellow dust inside the tulips.
It's the shape of a tulip.
It's the water in the drinking glass the tulips are in.
It's a day like any other.

Right now at the Poetry Foundation is an exhibit:

Jane Freilicher: Painter Among Poets

I'd been so sad when I realized that this same exhibit had closed at the Tibor de Nagy Gallery in New York. so at Christmas I bought on-line the catalog. Imagine my joyous surprise when I discovered the exhibit had traveled here to Chicago.

Jane was a  sounding board to many within the NY "school" of poets. Letters and postcards passed between Frank O'Hara, James Schuyler, Kenneth Koch, John Ashbery to Jane. Indeed, John and Jane have been friends for close to 60 years. Viewing photographs at the exhibit made me jealous. I want what they had--that all hours of the night, speaking in shorthand innuendo, gossipy letters, inspirational collaboration. The kind of thing I suppose all artists wish for--but that was particularly unique to this close-knit group of friends. Every one of them leaving a mark on the world through their art.
John Ashbery

drawing of Frank O'Hara


Kenneth Koch

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