i am still thinking about shawna lemay's reading at factory west on tuesday. her husband robert lemay is an artist who's recently been studying and painting still lifes. shawna read a marvelous essay from her forthcoming book calm things (palimpsest press). the piece was about many things: art, generosity, giving/gifts/giftedness, robins and crows, fragility, permanence, and that astonishing, agonizing shuttle between them called creation.
it was the kind of essay that keeps resonating for a long time, and one of the things it made me think is how wonderful it would be to live with a still life artist. the most commonplace things would be imbued with possibility -- the supermarket, for instance. you might wonder, as you heft the lemon, what it would look like with sunlight falling on it just so. you might rethink your aversion to eggplant dishes once you see them as gorgeous aubergine. who cares if you can't eat a dozen granny smith apples: their green against your dark brown table makes you swoon.
and yes, i think, it's better to live with a still life artist than to be one. free from the responsibility of decision, composition, execution, you would just get to revel in possibility. the banana, spotted and browned, might not be compost, but a study in degeneration. the unwashed cup, the china pot, the milk jug on the counter are all redolent with painterly possibility. and who would iron after you've seen RL's drapery?
it may be too late for me to procure an artist-husband; ron the skylights guy is looking pretty permanent at this point. (you'd think that might be a vocation with poetic possibility, but i'm here to tell you there is more mud than sky in roofing.) there must be a way to live like this -- what emily dickinson calls "dwell in possibility" -- without the man. i'm going to start by lying on the day bed on this perfect first day of summer, reading rebecca solnit and listening to the birds torment the black cat by my side.