What greater gift for Christmas than one person giving themselves to another? On 24 December, 1966, 6 days after she arrived in Canada, my beloved and I were married in Kincardine, Ontario.
How fitting, then, that today, 52 years later, my beloved and I, still together, should celebrate with this other gift, a portrait of a hollyhock, gifted to us by Geoff Slater, the art director at Kingsbrae / KIRA. This gift is also a gift resulting from a gift, for in the summer Geoff visited us, saw our beautiful hollyhock, photographed it, and carried away some of its seeds to sow in his own garden when he got home. Little did we know, in the summer, that those small seeds would have grown into this fabulous, timeless painting.
Geoff is known for his line-paintings and to have one hanging on display in our kitchen in a place of honor is to celebrate creativity, art, the role that flowers play in our lives, and the friendship that goes with gifting and re-gifting that which is beautiful and most precious to us.
Here is my poem for Geoff and his beautiful wife Andrea. It is based on one of Geoff’s analyses of this painting (Studio 1, October 2018) and is my verbal gift from me to them, from poet to painter and painted.
for Geoff and Andrea Slater
Where is the entry point, where the exit?
This labyrinth of lines, straight, not circular,
baffles the eye, confuses with a negative space
that lightens colors and begs more darkness.
Mystery surrounds the sitter’s form: the board walk,
no Dutch kitchen this, the chair on which she sits,
the locket she wears, the landscape, seascape
against which she is framed. White noise, perhaps,
but noise that turns to a single voice, a single line,
that of the paint-brush tip-toeing, delicate its thread
through interior, exterior meaning, just beyond
the viewer’s grasp. Yet walking past, each person stops,
stands still, as the painting draws them in, ties them up,
binds them with an ineffable thread, stronger than words,
mightier than the eye that traces its way along paths
that deceive, baffle, disturb, throw us from the high-wire
created by a mind that turns linear into circular space.