Tad Richards

In the seventh picture, a man
sits at a knotty wooden table
while a woman serves him drinks.

In sequence, the symbolism
is unmistakable, from the
escutcheon, half covered by foam,

to the bow at her plump bosom,
to the molting bird on the window
ledge. The eighth picture

mirrors the third, but this time
the waves choppy, the sun
sending out last rays,

the whirling lovers centripetal,
till we're forced to ask how far
the artist means to take us back.

She’d tell us – she likes explaining
her work, from the first pencil
lines snagging fiber to the

washes, the forms like ghosts
and as easily moved through walls,
over trees, in and out of each other,

to the crosshatched features on
lovers set at odds, soldiers, misers,
whores and drunks, old men dying,

but she’s not here. She left
early, to sip red wine in the shadows,
and think about her mother,

the sculptor, who whispered
endearments and hissed imprecations
at the wood chips that flew,

and the knots that resisted,
and the blocks that became thighs,
but never talked to her.