Art History

Betsy Holleman Burke

Morning class, pajamas under raincoats
lights go down, anticipation up, slides make
a carriage ride from rural Virginia
to the Met, the Jeu de Paume,
Picasso’s aerie, Rodin’s atelier, 
Monet’s garden, the Louvre,
to Paris, London and Bruges.

Dreams of being a painters’ muse
obsess classmates who study art
in Paris, come back wild and worldly,
loving Gauloises and red wine.
With the slide library for comfort
I whiled hours learning artists’ styles 
brush strokes, subjects, light.

Fifty years on, a gift of such abundance 
seems rare, yet here I am in the Met
with my old friend, Delacroix.
Near tears I view his restored
The Agony in the Garden, luminous white
skin, invisible brush strokes, lustrous
light from above.  Perfection.

This poem appeared in the Ekphrastic Review in 2018.

The Agony in the Garden, by Eugene Delacroix, 1851