Monday, April 5

a little loving in between …

Vincent Van Gogh —  First steps (after Millet), 1890. Metropolitan Museum of Art.
This post was meant to go out on March 30th, but one thing or another has led to this delay. {Were I a writer, I would call it writer’s block, but since I am not a writer, I don’t know what to call it}.

March 30th marks the birthday of two of history’s most important painters, Vincent Van Gogh, the Dutch impressionist master whose very name and semblance have become icons of the suffering tormented artist, and Francisco José de Goya y Lucientes, the painter of Spanish royals, implacable firing squads, nude and clothed majas and personal demons. Several blog friends have posted on Van Gogh (kimy at mouse medicine and the ever Clever Pup), so here I will include images of some of the better known paintings of the less celebrated Goya. All of the Goya paintings below are part of the permanent collection of the Prado Museum in Madrid.

Followed by a poem.

The Third of May 1808 (1814)

The Clothed Maja (La maja vestida), ca. 1803

The Nude Maja (La maja desnuda), ca. 1799
Saturn Devouring His Son (1819)

Love wounds
When my big-eyed small-town girl
regards her nude body
in our bedroom mirror
there is a sag and wince
in her eyes as they catch
on the long overlapping scars
left by two caesarian sections —
footprints of our daughters’ first steps

Her gaze re-plows the furrowed
slit of pink puckered skin and flesh
mocked in her mornings
by Frankenstein staple smile
the wave where the storm snapped
the oar and ripped the folded sail
when the midwife became surgeon
the stork brought a scalpel to the nest
and the well rehearsed breathing
of birthing pangs and pains succumbed
under sugared swirls of anesthetizing ether

Had I such mystical powers
I would gladly kiss away those scars
from the mirrors of her self-regard
but I don’t know if I could ever
bring myself to make them vanish
from the delicious curve of her soft belly

I would not erase the Rembrandt
craquelure from her Rubens tummy
the mauve ridge I anoint
with the unguent nectar of my narcissus
nor could I release the lightning bolt
captured in amber
the morning the world was created
and the first cradle first rocked

But there are other wounds
that cannot be tickled with my nose
or cupped in trembling hands
wounds that leave no scars
because they never close
never heal

Inside those grimaced eyes
there is the throb of such wounds
that my blind archers have caused her
fountains where the morning doe once
drank pine-scented waters in the hidden clearing
before being felled by wayward arrows
gashes that will only be closed
by the final open wound
that devours us all
the day freed lightning
burns down the cathedral forest

Stitched womb
bruised hearts
open grave
crest risen daughters
crest fallen lovers
honeyed waters run into salt sea
my whispering horn serenades
the moist cotton of her pillow
grapevines ripped from trestles
tendrils roaming August winds

Forgive the fevered ghosts that wander here
forgive me if I choke on bloodied words
and if those that struggle out
bring the pain of kindest cuts
but love is not an anesthetic
love is a hallucinogenic
razor lozenge
forever humming in the throat

        * * *
It is Spring,
let me sleep in your waters
scatter cherry blossoms on your mirror
while our wounds learn to love each other

March 30th is also my wedding anniversary. Twenty years after María and I got married our love has brought forth and raised two daughters and borne loving witness to their coming onto the threshold of adulthood. In the nearly quarter century that has passed since we decided to braid our destinies together, we have seen blissful days and days of pain and confusion, memorable inner and outer sojourns and exasperating crises, clouds of butterflies and swarms of hornets. Above all else, the many steps of this journey have nurtured deep and abiding friendship and love. Our love, like life itself, is not perfect — it is achingly real and far more beautiful than all of that.

Feliz aniversario nena.

Debt acknowledgement: the following poetic snippets have danced in my mind while doing this post ...

Advice by and from Langston Hughes
"Folks, I'm telling you,
birthing is hard
and dying is mean—
so get yourself
a little loving
in between."

“let our scars fall in love” — Galway Kinnell

"When a man wishes a woman he will blow a horn.
When a woman wishes a man she eats the cotton of her pillow"
   —Nizar Qabbani

Blog friend Brian of Waystation One will recognize these thoughts from a comment I left on his “Kiss off wedding crasher” post, from which I have outright swiped gratefully borrowed the “pink puckered flesh” image. You have my apologies and thanks, Brian.


  1. I assume you wrote the poem and I bow to your talent. That is an incredible piece. I hurried through it to see who wrote it and will now read again.

  2. Yes, California Girl, I wrote the poem. I guess I should make it clearer with a byline at the end. Will do so from now on. Thanks for your kind comment. Catch you later after you've reread it ;)

  3. Beautiful tribute to your bride of 30 years, Lorenzo. Love IS "achingly real and far more beautiful than all of that."

  4. no apology necessary...marvelous job with the poem, you have knit it togeether so nicely...a beautiful tribute to love...

  5. This is a serious love poem, beautifully laid out and heavy with imagery that take us through centuries of great poetry. Thank you for sharing these words. Thank you for connecting the other pieces that inspired this.
    Thank you for your honest thoughts.

    We are all feeling more beautiful because of these words.

  6. Oh, that is absolutely beautiful, Lorenzo. Happy anniversary to you and her!

  7. What a gift of a poem.

    As with your previous poem, I will need future readings of this to catch all of it.

    And the ending is concise, complete:

    "but love is not an anesthetic
    love is a hallucinogenic
    razor lozenge
    forever humming in the throat"

    It rings like a refrain, direct, bold, truth.

    Happy Anniversary.

  8. Lorenzo
    Beautiful -- and I have to admit made me cry -- a break the heart open kind of poem...
    Oh to have the gift to begin at the end, and make the way back to the beginning - where the endless dance began - the quiet song that lovers do... to have the ability to see in your lovers eyes that there is no loss only difficult gifts. To honor your love and confront yourself and deal honestly with the issues of the heart is always frightening and at the same time to take her hand and climb to the stars.
    Happy Anniversary-- may you both be blessed forever and a day,

  9. That's MUCH better than my VVG poem. Heh.

    Happy Anniversary!

  10. Love those last quote snippets - new to me.

    Beautifyul poem, some extraordinary imagery.

    Feliz aniversario ha los dos! 30 is really something.

  11. I was moved, felt longing, pain, intensity of belonging.. you wrote a moving piece.. gutsy and strong.

  12. What a post Lorenzo, the images both with words and from Goya... Fantastic, uplifting and lovely.
    Happy Anniversary to ye.

  13. I love this post and the poem, as a wife of 20 years and mother of two sons and deep admirer of both the artwork and suffering of van Gogh and Goya. And, strangeley enough, March 30th is the birthday of my childhood hero, an amazing racehorse named Secretariat. Thanks, Lorenzo. Your post reminded me.

  14. Thanks, Ronda, but it is my 20th anniversary, not 30th. Love is complicated, let's take it one decade at a time with no leaps!

  15. Hello, Brian. Thanks for the after-the-post green light! (post-post green light sounded odd).

  16. Dear lakeviewer. Thanks so much for the warm thoughts. The operative word here was "honest", I think. Not easy to openly address the less-the-stellar side of relationships

  17. Hello Amy of She Writes. Thanks for the anniversary wishes and good luck on your return to the desks and books!

  18. Terresa, thanks for the anniversary wishes. I am glad you liked the poem enough to re-read. I got badly stuck on this and couldn't quite get it to where I was satisfied with the result, and eventually posted it almost a week late. Oh well, María is used to my self-absorbed procrastination.

  19. Thanks, Joanny for the anniversary blessings. You always make take the time and effort to leave v ery thoughtful and supportive comments. Really appreciate it. And, yes, I will answer you recent email one of these days...

  20. Hey, Jeff. Thanks for the anniversary wishes. Don't know if Gaugin would agree with you on the relative merits of VVG poems!

  21. Dear Monica, nice of you to pop in here from your lovely "bohemian shadows". I was really struck by your post today with the depth- illusion street art.

  22. Dear Joan. I really appreciate your comment because you mention pain and "intensity of longing". Those were definitely emotions that went into this brew.

  23. Thanks Niamh for the anniversary wishes and kind comments. Always the thoughtful one you are.

  24. Hi Andrea. Now that is a "triple crown" for you: Van Gogh, Goya and Secretariat. I actually remember Secretariat winning the triple crown 37 years ago!

  25. This comment has been removed by the author.

  26. Happiest of anniversaries to you and your wife, Lorenzo. I wrote a comment earlier but can't think of words to convey how beautiful your post is. The poem is amazing, and believe me, you are a writer! What a wonderful post, as always.

  27. Lovely poem, Lorenzo. Congratulations on your anniversary.

  28. Lorenzo, when "our wounds learn to love each other," we will have found the secret to living in this world. I won't soon forget this one!

  29. I used the hum image today,
    if that makes me close to you in this talent, I'm okay with that.

    and this kind of love... I know it. My husband and I share it. Blessing to you and your wife in this. And to more.

  30. Sue (A Brush with Color): Thanks for the anniversary wishes. Keep up the flattery, you just make convince me yet!

  31. Thanks, Angie. Hope you are over your colds and ear infection.

  32. Hi, Kathryn. Nice to see you on the blog. I have been happily discovering yours since willow mentioned you and posted the link the other day.

  33. Deb: Yes, I saw your beautiful "gratitude" post today and I liked how you made that breaking of bread hum.

    Thanks for the blessings and I wish you and your husband many more as well.

  34. happy anniversary! time flies - before you know it you will be celebrate 30 years..... my parents celebrated their 59th on the 31st

    didn't realize goys's bd was the same as vincent's ....what an artistically auspicious day

  35. I agree with California Girl, that is an incredible poem. Beautifully and sensitively written. Goya could not have painted a more moving portrait.

    And then I came to the Nizar Qabbani quote. What??

    Guess I'm going to have to think about that one.

  36. Hi there!

    I like Goya's imagination. I especially like the first painting, the one with the firing squads. I think he's got some wicked sense of humor painting the clothed and the nude Maja lol.

    It's really sweet of you to post this. I especially like the line "it is achingly real and far more beautiful than all of that." May you guys to continue to live happily.

  37. Lorenzo

    Wonderful idea -- I hope you join too...


  38. Happy Anniversary!

    I love the paintings too.

  39. Kimy: Thanks. As Grouch used to say: "time flies like an arrow and fruit flies like a banana". Congrats to your parents.

    Hi Barry: Glad you liked it and, yes, that Qabbani quote does give one pause. But that is probably what good poetic imagery is all about.

    Hello HalfCrazy and welcome to the blog. Nice to see you here and thanks for the good wishes. More your way!

    Joanny: I'll check out the meme suggestions. Thanks. Although I am finding that much of the time I am too undisciplined to write to deadlines and prompts.

    Everyday Goddess: wouldn't be a complete day or post without a visit from a goddess or two. Thanks for dropping by and for the anniversary wish.

  40. Happy Anniversary!!

    This piece is a raw, yet very loving tribute to your wife, Lorenzo.

  41. willow: I did want to get part of the 'raw' side of love in here, although I did find it quite hard to 'talk' about the pains and wounds that accompany even the best of relationships. It's easier just to be silent on that part of marriage and love, but then how believable is the bliss if we pretend there is nothing else?

  42. Read this just once. Will read again.

    First thoughts: The tenderness and love, the quiet pain and joy - this is what a life together is - and mostly in a strange together-apartness that can't quite ever be ferried across utterly. The separateness is in some ways insurmountable. Which leaves the longing, and that is the most delicious part.

    An honor to read it.

    (Working through your posts, slowly. Had begun with lipstick, so I'm working back - a little shamefully between student emails and appointments . . . )


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