“For R.” Up at Fevers of the Mind

Water color and pen and ink work by Rena Williams, photographed by me. I am not sure whether this has a title, but she said she created it for her son Robert, who passed away in his thirties.

Many thanks to David L O’Nan, Editor of Fevers of the Mind, for publishing my ekphrastic take on the above piece by my late friend, Rena Williams. The poem is my last Wolfpack contribution, which makes me a little sad, but a little relieved, also. I often go weeks between poems and months between the ones I consider to be exceptionally good, so choosing what to submit every month for my contribution was a little difficult. On the whole, though, I am proud of the variety and quality of the pieces I sent in during my membership in the pack. One reader already wrote to thank me for “For R.,” and Rena’s daughter loved it, which makes me feel particularly good about it.

In this poem, I tried to imagine the circumstances in which Rena might have worked–she usually worked while listening to music, often Baroque or early Mozart operas–and the way the forms in the painting evoke her experience of losing her son. Of course I can’t really know these things; I can only associate the forms with what occurs to me as likely to have been going through Rena’s head and heart while she worked on them. I tried to evoke the rich life in the artwork and what I see as its hopeful spirituality, with a delicacy that honors Rena and her son, rather than obtruding my own reactions.

I would be honored if you took a look at this poem. And while you are there, take a look around at some of the many other offerings from the indefatigable editor. You’re sure to find something enriching, and goodness knows, we all need that, especially in these troubled times.


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