NaPoWriMo Day 0 – A woman ironing

Happy April! NaPoWriMo (National Poetry Writing Month) is here. I’ll be writing 30 poems in 30 days or at-least I hope to write 30 poems as per the prompts provided in the link below https://www.napowrimo.net/almost-there-and-an-early-bird-prompt/

If any of you wish to participate, all you need to do is write a poem and paste the link in the comments section there. Without further ado, here is my poem for the day based on the painting below.

A Woman Ironing, Edgar Degas (French, Paris 1834–1917 Paris), Oil on canvas
Much as Degas was fascinated by the movements of dancers, he was also intrigued by the repetitive, specialized gestures made by laundresses as they worked. This painting, the first of three versions of the composition, is distinguished by its dramatic chiaroscuro, with the woman silhouetted against a luminous white backdrop. Purchased by the singer and collector Jean-Baptiste Faure, the canvas was returned so that Degas could rework it. The artist, however, kept the picture and lent it to the 1876 Impressionist exhibition, receiving praise for his “rapidly done silhouettes of laundresses.”

There she stood, bent, over yards and yards of cotton

And silk or perhaps it was muslin or chiffon-

I cannot say for she wouldn’t let me near-

“The cloth’s too white and your hands too filled with color,” she’d say

Don’t you dare come anywhere near, do you hear?”

her voice soft, the hot, black metal in her hand.

I’d watch her from outside the brown, wooden door

the days it was too cold to stand outside, and she’d drawn

those thick, white drapes to keep the cold wind from getting in-

her head bent, her hands gliding like a ballerina

over layers and layers of cotton, silk or perhaps it was muslin or chiffon.

I cannot say for she wouldn’t let me near

“The cloth’s too white and your hands too filled with color,” she’d say

Don’t you dare come anywhere near here. Do you hear?”

Her stubby fingers straightening out, petticoats and lace

with not so much a crease over her face

And I lay down my canvas and painted –

the shadows over her countenance and

the light around, and under her hand

I could never tell what she was thinking

Turned to the side, her head bent over

yards and yards of soft, white cotton

or silk or perhaps it was muslin or chiffon-

I cannot say for she wouldn’t let me near .

“The cloth’s too white and your hands too filled with color,” she’d say

Don’t you dare come anywhere near here. Do you hear?”

The above poem was written based on the Early bird prompt received as part of NaPoWriMo which I’ve provided below

Today, we’d like to challenge you to spend a few minutes looking for a piece of art that interests you in the online galleries of New York’s Metropolitan Museum of Art. Perhaps a floral collar from the tomb of Tutankhamen? Or a Tibetan cavalryman’s suit of armor? Or a gold-and-porcelain flute? After you’ve selected your piece, study the photographs and the accompanying text. And then – write a poem! Maybe about who you imagine making the piece, or using it. Or how it wound up in the museum? Or even the life of the person who wrote the text about the piece – perhaps the Met has a windowless basement full of graduate students churning out artwork descriptions – who knows?

Copyright@smithavishwanathsblog.com. All Rights Reserved.

NaPoWriMo

12 comments

    1. I enjoyed writing this poem. So glad you mentioned the repetition and the going in and out between the painter and the ironing lady. This poem is one of my favorites until now.

      Liked by 1 person

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