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A Quarterly Journal
Jeffrey Woodward, Founder & General Editor
Volume 6, Number 4, December 2012

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Geoffrey Winch
Felpham, West Sussex, England


New York: Final Canvas

“For our New York summer I thank you. For showing me around; sharing with me the sights, the sounds; prolonging our season; paying the rent; your love of living with me way-up here in the clouds I thank you.” You ask me, “Why?” and turn your gaze from our high-rise window.

fog
filling the streets the squares
our park

I let the drape covering my canvas slide to the floor till it rests on the city’s colours spattered across the boards. “The last picture I’ll paint in New York—my parting gift for you.” You scratch your head, your eyes don’t smile: “It’s you and you’re walking away!” you say. “An English road taking me home, the one Mister Shakespeare would have used when, from London, he was travelling home.” “Then why the snow and cloudy sky?” “Because,” I reply, “I am alone,” to which you command: “Take your palette knife and scrape those clouds away!” I scrape the sky, re-paint it blue, allowing warmth and sunshine to start breaking through. “And the snow: that too can go!” I apply shades of green to the roadside grass: somehow it begins to grow.

snowflakes—
let’s call them
cherry blossom petals

Now the weather’s turned-out fine. I patch the road with drying puddles. “And paint me walking home with you: I’ll follow in Mister Shakespeare’s footsteps too.” But I paint us looking at a little sign on which I start to write our destination. You mark my hesitation so I paint-in a very minor junction. “At this point he would have been nearing home, two days after leaving his friends in London,” I explain, “but we must turn off this pilgrim way: from Stratford my home is not far away.” You nod: “Just as long as we stay together now we’ve left New York behind.” We turn down the narrow lane, pause upon the old stone bridge and glance down into the swirling Stour.

waters
swift beneath our bridge
captivated sun

“Come, we must leave this river, leave it to flow-on to join the Avon.” Arm-in-arm we carry on listening to the afternoon’s hedgerows sing—we’ve resisted the urge to join the pilgrim throng and keep heading instead into the Red Horse Vale: Shakespeare-land as the poet himself would have known it when into the countryside he might have roamed. It’s late in the day – when the inner heat of our city shoes builds-up too much—that you say, “I don’t think I can walk much further.” This is the point where a terra-cotta chimney-pot at last comes into view—

lowering sun
paints gold rural domestic stone
I lay my brushes down

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end

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