Writer Richard Meryman speaking at the National Gallery of Art. Excerpts from recordings of years of conversations with Andrew Wyeth, and others, are woven into Meryman’s latest book, Andrew Wyeth: A Spoken Self-Portrait.
Think of the now-passed-away artist you greatly admire, and imagine being able to listen to him/her voicing thoughts about life, art, work.
Father Larry Madden
For Mothers Day, the family is obliged to go on an outing of my choosing, and this year it was the beautiful gardens of Dumbarton Oaks, all dressed up in their spring finery. Here my husband and daughter find an unusual rest stop above the cutting garden west of the Prunus Walk.
And also for Mothers Day, a poem by George Bilgere, “Laundry,” of which I did none today.
My mother stands in this black
And white arrangement of shadows
In the sunny backyard of her marriage,
Struggling to pin the white ghosts
Of her family on the line.
I watch from my blanket on the grass
As my mother’s blouses lift and billow,
Bursting with the day.
My father’s white work shirts
Wave their empty sleeves at me,
And my own little shirts and pants
Flap and exult like flags
In the immaculate light.
It is mid-century, and the future lies
Just beyond the white borders
Of this snapshot; soon that wind
Will get the better of her
And her marriage. Soon the future
I live in will break
Through those borders and make
A photograph of her-but
For now the shirts and blouses
Are joyous with her in the yard
As she stands with a wooden clothespin
In her mouth, struggling to keep
The bed sheets from blowing away.
Two weeks on call for the U.S. District Court. One of the principal benefits of jury duty is that the courthouses are all in the neighborhood of the National Gallery of Art.
For the first of May, a poem by Paul Laurence Dunbar (1872–1906), who spent part of his brief but prolific life here in Washington, DC.
Sweetest of the flowers a-blooming
In the fragrant vernal days
Is the Lily of the Valley
With its soft, retiring ways.
Well, you chose this humble blossom
As the nurse’s emblem flower,
Who grows more like her ideal
Every day and every hour.
Like the Lily of the Valley
In her honesty and worth,
Ah, she blooms in truth and virtue
In the quiet nooks of earth.
Tho’ she stands erect in honor
When the heart of mankind bleeds,
Still she hides her own deserving
In the beauty of her deeds.
In the silence of the darkness
Where no eye may see and know,
There her footsteps shod with mercy,
And fleet kindness come and go.
Not amid the sounds of plaudits,
Nor before the garish day,
Does she shed her soul’s sweet perfume,
Does she take her gentle way.
But alike her ideal flower,
With its honey-laden breath,
Still her heart blooms forth its beauty
In the valley shades of death.
—Paul Laurence Dunbar