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Impressions en Plein Air

(From Flight 2199, Regarding Monet)
Far above the street scene graffiti of Paris,
I think of you, Monet, from the air up here
flying this sea foam sky, a shelf of waves
against a floor of mist breaking open in patches
of blue and white. 

And I, like some devotee of impending collisions
in texture and transparency, dapple words
as Giverny expatriates might have once on palettes
a harvest of light, cultivating a poetry of space
en plein air. 

I have looked, Monet, into the mirror into which
you must have many times glanced or long gazed, 
your Orient prints awash in blue flirting the glass
with the constant movement of the sea in which
little else has changed. 

You grew big bellied with age, Monet, tousle of hair
thick with gray, sight on the wane, canvases growing, 
you padding through the long yawn of rooms painted
blue as lichen, yellow as sunflowers, reflecting lilies
afloat between the sky and the water. 

But in your garden, beyond the rose blanketed fence, 
those flowers brown now in a wilted July. I have looked, 
Monet, into the mirror into which you must have
glanced or long gazed recollecting those lilies for me, 
yet another tourist here. 

They tell me that the best part of your life, Monet, 
was inhabiting these gardens. And as the light fades, 
I cannot help but wonder where it is next that I will go, 
and of my words, what will they become stretching there
en plein air. 

The Largeness of Flowers*

"...So I said to myself--I'll paint what I see--what the flower is to me, but I'll paint it big and they will be surprised into taking the time to look at it." --Georgia O'Keeffe

Rising into a day shivering in a rare western gray, clouds run 
ragged by wind and rain across the range, even hottentot sun 
cups curled inward upon themselves and I became afraid the 
world might turn to black and white so I made my way to you, 
Georgia, inside a gallery garden filled with the largeness of 
flowers, a poetry of things. 

Like you I love to linger inside the bud and fold of color upon 
those petal palettes, whole continents of blooms swelling in a 
garden party of the grand. I think as I look in, how can you 
say there is no sex in the fiery poppy, no birth in its blood rich 
petals, no thought of death inside the deep and dark center, 
no drama in these big beauties that dizzy and dazzle as any 
first love might. 

You say these flowers mean nothing more than their own 
largeness, lines spiraling in upon themselves and taking their 
natural course. What started beneath the soil line appeared 
above the ground then plucked by you, you bequeathed them 
to these gallery walls. On my wall, your wild iris blazes and 
poppies swell like bodies, like any love at first sight might in a 
new found intimacy. 

You say none of this means anything, that they are simply 
flowers and big. But in the largeness of flowers I can see the 
blood rich petals of my own mother's lips as my head tunneled 
past the spread wren bone, she a sky adrift in twilight clouds 
like a city a blur in fog, the sun setting down, unaware of her 
own pain or of me. My mother is dead. You are dead. The 
flowers return. All really big. 

A garden party of the large, colossal, mammoth, but only 
flowers pushing their stubborn heads toward the incessant 
chatter of birds. 

* - publication Credits for The Largeness of Flowers:

Rattle 15: Poetry for the 21st Century. Sherman Oaks, CA, Summer 2001
New Words 2002 prize winner. Akron Art Museum, judged by Elton Glaser, Akron, OH.
Euphoria 2003 (online) prize winner, Harrisburg, PA
Inhabiting the Body: A Collection of Poetry and Art by Women, Moon Journal Press and Woman Made Art Gallery, Chicago, IL, 2002.

Andrena Zawinski is the author of a full collection of poetry, Traveling in Reflected Light, issued from Pig Iron Press as a Kenneth Patchen competition winner; a chapbook, Andrena Zawinski's Greatest Hits 1991-2001, part of the invitational and archival series from Pudding House; an online collection of Elegies at The Pittsburgh Quarterly. Her individual publications are many and include work that has appeared in Gulf Coast, Quarterly West, Santa Clara Review, Nimrod International, Paterson Literary Review, and many more. Her poetry also has been showcased online at For Poetry, Disquieting Muses, On the Page, Adirondack Review, and elsewhere. Zawinski is Feature Editor at, is a volunteer with the Robert Hass Lunch Poems reading series at U C Berkeley, and is on the editorial board for

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