I’ve long been fascinated by the Canadian painter and writer, Emily Carr. Who wouldn’t admire a woman who went off – in 1898 – by herself – to stay in aboriginal villages in British Columbia? She was a daring Modernist artist, Canada’s answer to Georgia O’Keefe. At the same time, she was a staunch environmentalist before most people knew the word or understood the concept.
Today, Aji Magazine (pronounced Ah-hee) published a poem of mine about this amazing artist in their “Emerald Issue”. http://ajimagazine.com
Brushed: Emily Carr
No one asked her to come. She just came. To Cumshewa,
To Haida Gwaii. To The Islands of the People.
A leather satchel, wrinkled like an old woman’s nose,
stuffed with tubes of pthalo blue, camel hair brushes, old rags.
A dented frying pan, blackened by beans, hung
onto the slope of her horse’s back like a metal tail.
She was there to paint the hidden woods and waters,
to sweep the mines of aqua and marine.
Her arrival stirred the native sons, who narrowed their eyes
and hid behind the virgin firs at her first approach.
But the elders knew sacred when they saw it
and praised the transparent quiet of the stranger’s step.
At night she bedded down alone on the forest floor
letting the wolves speak to her, fauve to fauve.
By day, with hurried strokes, she copied the beryl pond,
the turquoise lakes, the blue-green domes.
Before the loggers slashed, before soapsuds curdled streams,
she stashed emeralds onto canvas, none too soon.