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The Missouri Review 27.3 (2004) 168-169

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Monet at Giverny

When the rain stopped
Giving pavements their surfaces of oil,
The day grew luminous with poplars and the gardens

Where we walked through Giverny in the Metropolitan
Museum of Art. Painting by painting,
We watched light change

With the time of year or day,
Watched as colors from a warmer world
Took shape all around us. I thought I could see something

Of those trees—sentinel and windrow—being repeated
Along your spine, the way you stood staring
Into sunsets which were hay-

Stacks and fields, pools where
Clouds bloomed like lilies, their petals alizarin
Crimson. And thought I saw something of Monet himself

In straw hat and beard, fingers wrinkled as tubes of paint,
There where the banked fires of flowers
Floated upon their gessos.

In the end, water bore him
More lightly than ever through cataracts, age,
And the deaths of his friends—an old man drifting amid

Surface reflections, the worn paths and bridges where he's
Passed into his life, his work, the children
He's buried, paintings

He won't survive. For years
The full moon rising through our poplars
Cast its watery light across that poster and bedroom wall: [End Page 168]

Silhouettes the winds played, leaves like shoals of fish,
Their black flames shimmering above the folds
Of our bodies as we slept.

Robert Gibb's last book of poems, The Origins of Evening, was a National Poetry Series winner (selected by Eavan Boland). His new book, The Burning World, has just been published by the University of Arkansas Press.



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