Saturday, November 8, 2014

The Descent of Winter: 11/8

Maurice de Vlaminck, Landscape with River

Out of her childhood she remembered, as one might remember Charlie Wordsworth's print shop in the rear of Bagellons, the hinged paperknife, the colored posters of horses (I'll bet it was for the races at Clifton where the High School now stands). Once Pop made a big kite, five feet tall maybe, with the horses' heads in the middle and it flew and I couldn't hold it without help. They fastened it to a post of the back porch at nightfall, real rope they had on it, and in the morning it was still there. She remembered the day the old man painted the mirror back of the bar: He took off his coat and laid the brushes and pans from his bag on one of the barroom tables. No one else was there but Jake who sat with his head in his hands except when someone came in for something or to telephone. Then he'd unlock the inside door and sit down again watching the old man. It was a big mirror. First he painted in a river coming in over from the door and curving down greenywhite nearly the whole length of it and very wide to fall in a falls into the edge of another river that ran all along the bottom all the way across, only a little of the water to be seen. Then he put in a blue sky all across the top with white clouds in it and under them a row of brown hills coming down to the upper banks. Green trees he made with a big brush, just daubing it on, some of it even up top over the hills on the clouds, the trunks of the trees to be put in later. But down below, under the top river and all down the right side where it curved down to the falls he painted in the trunks first like narrow dark brown bottles. Then he drew in the houses, with white sides, three of them near the falls. "A good place to fish," Jake said. The roofs were red. On the other side of the falls, between two rivers, the houses were brown, two of them on brown hills with trees all among them. Then, after the paint of the rivers was dry, he began to paint in little boats, above and below—— She never saw the work finished, for the saloon had been sold and they moved away. The last thing she saw him do was paint in the boats, "Look out that boat up there don't go over those falls," Jake said. The rivers were painted flat on the glass, wonderful rivers where she wanted to be. Some day she wanted to go to that place and see it. Like the song she remembered in school and she always wanted them to sing when you could ask what song you wanted sung, "Come again soon and you shall hear sung the tale of those little green islands." She always wanted to hear the rest of it but there was never any more. They moved away.



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