Monet refuses the operation

Doctor, you say there are no halos
around the street lights in Paris
and what I see is an aberration
caused by old age, an affliction.
I tell you it has taken me all my life
to arrive at the vision of gas lamps as angels,
to soften and blur and finally banish
the edges you regret I don’t see,
to learn that the line I called the horizon
does not exist and sky and water,
so long apart, are the same state of being.
Fifty-four years before I could see
Rouen cathedral is built
of parallel shafts of sun,
and now you want to restore
my youthful errors: fixed
notions of top and bottom,
the illusion of three-dimensional space,
wisteria separate
from the bridge it covers.
What can I say to convince you
the Houses of Parliment dissolve
night after night to become
the fluid dream of the Thames?
I will not return to a universe
of objects that don’t know each other,
as if islands were not but lost children
of one great continent. The world
is flux, and light becomes what it touches,
becomes water, lilies on water,
above and below water,
becomes lilac and mauve and yellow
and white and cerulean lamps,
small fists passing sunlight
so quickly to one another
that it would take long, streaming hair
inside my brush to catch it.
To paint the speed of light!
Our weighted shapes, these verticals,
burn to mix with air
and change our bones, skin, clothes
to gases. Doctor,
if only you could see
how heaven pulls earth into its arms
and how infinitely the heart expands
to claim this world, blue vapor without end.

– LISEL MUELLER

6 thoughts on “Monet refuses the operation

  1. could you email me the title to this work — i’ve been searching for it for awhile now and can’t seem to pinpoint it. i love it….thank you so much!

  2. Hi Allison,

    I found this work (the poem) under this title and am not aware of another. If you are referring to the painting it is at the Fitz museum;

    Monet, Claude (painter)
    Le Printemps (Springtime)(1886)
    painting (oil on canvas)

  3. Oh… Thanks for this! I am a visual artist of later years and am also experiencing vision problems – was aware that Monet also had major difficulties with his eyesight in his old age. The poem beautifully expresses a painter’s joy of “seeing” even with visual impairment. The world appears magical to me, even with foggyness, distorted shapes and “floaters” adding complexity not previously experienced.

    • Thanks for dropping by Kat. I just took a look at your latest blog post and can see why this particular post moved you. It moves me too but my appreciation, thankfully, comes from more of a metaphorical position. I can say that the really important seeing is not done with the eyes. I expect you have found the same. Sending all my blessings to you and your family.

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