Tuesday, May 01, 2012

'Margot Begermann' by Marian Spires

Margot Begermann 
Nuenen, Holland, Autumn 1884


On our daily walks, he paints my life
into his landscapes
I am
              the lonely figure
trudging to the ancient church
in a meadow suffused with crimson
               the faceless woman
strolling arm in arm with her lover
a bridal march     among the trees

He traces his longing for me
across these quiet fields
falling leaves kaleidoscope
sulphur yellow      vermillion     gold
among the autumn poplars
every passionate masterpiece
a secret love letter to me

each canvas increases
my desire     to feel
this harmony of flesh
his cacophony of colours calls me
to the sacred union
I must experience or die


I unlace my bodice
revealing my V-shaped scar
crimson between my breasts
my stigmata of devotion
the secret mark I carved for him

He stands mesmerised
then, with a gentle finger,
he traces the downward line
my flesh warms to his touch
a sunset blooms along my neck
down     down     down
into the cleft of my bosom

Je t'aime, I whisper
Vincent, je t'aime
he jolts his finger away
as if my skin, my declaration, burns him
he stands twisting and twisting
a braided cord tighter and tighter
around his fragile wrist
the woven bracelet cuts into his flesh
a carmine welt appears
Vincent, je t'aime
he claps my hands
and declares
Mon ami
L'amour de l'art fait
perdre l'amour vrai
a wife    children    a home
I no longer desire these things
I live only to paint

This week's Tuesday Poem is taken from Marian Spires verse novel, Knowing Vincent, New Work Picaro Press, 2010. The collection explores the life and work of Vincent Van Gogh through the voices of the women in his life. In 2009, Spires won the MWF Poetry Idol and used her prize money to travel to Europe - a journey which allowed her to complete the work in this collection.  

I do love thematic collections of work (personally I would hesitate to call this a verse novel) and when I first read Knowing Vincent, I was struck by the intensity of Spires' immersion into Van Gogh's work and writings. Looking at his life through the eyes of the women, brought these too-often silent muses to vivid life.

Slip over to the Tuesday Poem blog to read Helen Lowe's delightful poem 'Fey' and follow the links there to enrich your life with more Tuesday Poems.


Melissa Green said...

Cat, this is an absolutely gorgeous poem--the voice is so completely hers, the pacing is wonderful, the vision is so dazzling and clear. I can't imagine how she wrote an entire verse novel, a chorus of the women in Vincent's life--if they are all as marvelous as this, it's no wonder Marian Spires is a prizewinner--I hope it is the first of many. This is an absolutely gorgeous piece. Thank you for posting it.

Helen Lowe said...

A wonderful poem; thank you for the oppourtunity to read it and experience the poet's work.

Helen McKinlay said...

Thanks for posting this. I admire Marian's courage and focus in pursuing a work like this. And in staying grounded while dealing with such intensity. And being able to write in a way that reflects Van Gogh so well.