These days between late spring
and early summer are like paintings
already hanging but not yet finished
the week before the Summer Exhibition
(once the custom at the Royal Academy),
still waiting for their final touches
and smelling of linseed and turpentine:
everything fresh, the paint still wet,
the taut sky primed with a wash of blue.
The Siberian irises, not yet
unfurling, their buds still tight,
look like paintbrushes saturated
with ultramarine; buttercups
spatter the meadow with yellow.
From an arbor of scribbled vines,
blossom-clusters of wisteria
dangle, glistening with last night’s rain.
A wood thrush calls in liquid trills
from deep within the background’s
mass of pale, soft greens. The air
chills while the sun warms the scene.
May these days remain unfinished
a while longer, with no artist
jostling his way in
to apply some final flourish
or a coat of varnish that will
only darken. Let the bumblebee
fumble among the blossoms.
Copyright © 2020 Jeffrey Harrison
Used with the permission of The Permissions Company, LLC on behalf of Four Way Books.