Peter Chapman Poetry

de Kooning and Me

i'm looking at a big oil he did 40 years ago,
grey top, yellow/turquoise bottom, peach interior,
dark striations, thick and thin, some trouble
in the upper left corner, thinking that's my lake,
my far Canada, the storm i sailed out into
that flipped us, Rick Morrow climbing
up my back, sudden heavens, no preservers,
paddle floating off, the turbulence and exactitude
of a true predicament, not really a boy anymore,
my sweet Rhodes filling up fast
in a sinking blur of lines and sails

the guard watching me scribble in the chair
in the round museum, feeling de Kooning

work it up, getting the light right
the year we tipped, the kid saving himself
how he knew

lake and paint,
dilemmas of a good rescue

heating up the glaciers all those years,
for my run to get the weather

This painting was made in 1962 and called "untitled". This would have
been the year I tipped over in the boat. Recalling this, I'm 58, de Kooning's
age when he did the painting.