Monday, March 8, 2010

Renoir's Cat


(at Cagnes-sur-Mer)

She has the same anxious
friendly smile as the naked
servant girls peering down
from pictures on the farmhouse
walls above their rosy nipples.

She has a saucy black bib
and a rolling white belly
that she bares when she rolls
in the grass among the ripe
fallen olives. There can be no doubt
her grandmother was Renoir’s cat.

Last year Fiona Kidman sent me copies of a few of her recent poems. I loved Renoir’s Cat. My favourite painter and my favourite animal all wrapped up into one lovely little gentle poem.

Another she sent was about electricity and the miracle of its arrival ‘when the power board/ came and brought the lines past our gate’. At a snap of a cord the household had a better light in which to read . The poem ends:
It was enough that the green wireless
on the shelf told us stories for a change
and that I learned to waltz with my father
to its music in the kitchen.

I related to this poem. In my early boyhood we had ‘power’ for light and radio. Nothing else. Then my widowed mother got a small ‘fridge’. It was a miracle. Ice-blocks for our summer drinks.

Last week Anne went to the launch of Fiona’s latest collection, "Where Your Left Hand Rests’. Both of these poems are in it. I’ve been dipping into it ever since Anne brought it home. What I like about these poems is that they are intimate glimpses of life in the context of the wider world, especially strong on family, friends and occasions. The search for identity predominates. The world’s a better place for them. I hope Fiona keeps writing poems. They're good.

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