Picture from the Group of Seven
I have often stopped on the landing
to stare at this framed print
of a bountiful garden past maturity.
I would stop and think of melancholy.
But why melancholy?
Is it something about the faded hues
of mustard and olive and off-red?
Maybe it’s the black outlines,
as in an etching or engraving,
but coarser and blacker,
like block printing, with channels
cut by a body leaning on a chisel–
a tool for digging
like the hoe that must lie just offstage
from the picture, waiting to turn
the composting leaves into soil.
I think I recognize this place,
or at least this frame of mind,
with the garden just past the peak of all its glory–
its heavy fruits and brilliant petals–
sometime in mid-August
before the cool of fall sets in,
the shadows and undersides becoming visible,
manifested by crosshatches and lines.
Sometime while I wasn’t looking,
busy with preparations, engaged in my work,
it happened. No more than the complications
that arise in an ordinary life:
faults, illness, sadness, a child’s failure to thrive.
I pause on the stairs to think of these things…