I am looking at Monet’s A Woman Reading
on my screen, and while once I would have loved
rolling back in my desk chair to the spot
where the dabs of paint on the billows of pink dress
transmute into lambent sunlight flickering through
the greenery—animate as white moths—
now I can only think how uncomfortable and hot
Mme Monet’s voluminous 19th-century costume
must be, with its encrusted floral decorations
at the wrists, and the matching hat with its likely scratchy
pink bow under her chin, all of it making me doubt
her repose, and become suspicious of her poise.
Even her skirts hiked up in the back make me ask
what she’s actually sitting on, and imagine biting insects
in the lawn, fleas, perhaps, not to mention
grass stains on the silk (if it’s that)—and I think
I’m thinking all of this, resisting entering
this green dream of an afternoon because I know
that benign sun and temperate gardens are moving
north and will be gone, along with peace. Why, look—
even the book Camille is reading seems to be
decomposing in her hands, the pages lying strangely
flat, as if the binding cannot hold; each time
she turns a page, it separates.
A Woman Reading (aka Springtime)
This oil on canvas painting (1872) by French Impressionist painter Claude Monet (1840–1926) is held by The Walters Art Museum in Baltimore, Maryland (USA). Image above was downloaded from the public domain via the museum’s website on 17 December 2022: https://art.thewalters.org/detail/10078/springtime/
has five full-length collections of poetry published, including Groaning and Singing (FutureCycle, 2022), Bird Flying Through the Banquet (FutureCycle, 2017), Shimmer (WordTech, 2012), and Light Lowering in Diminished Sevenths (2nd ed. Antrim House, 2012), winner of the Litchfield Review poetry book prize for 2007. She also has two chapbooks published: Disappeared Down Dark Wells, and Still Falling (The Inevitable Press, 2000) and Ghost Nurseries (Finishing Line, 2005).
Her poems have appeared in Cider Press Review, Cimarron Review, Connotation Press, Ghost Town, Gyroscope Review, MacQueen’s Quinterly, New Ohio Review, Offcourse, One (Jacar Press), Rattle, Slant, Valparaiso Poetry Review, Verdad, Your Daily Poem, and other journals, and in more than three dozen anthologies. Her stories are published in The Madison Review, The North American Review, Literary Mama, and other magazines, and her creative nonfiction, in Under the Sun; Hippocampus; Inlandia: A Literary Journey; and elsewhere.
Her most recent story, The Paisley Scarf, was published in The Loch Raven Review (Volume 16, No. 1, 2020) and was nominated for a Pushcart.
Her most recent piece of creative nonfiction, Operating in French, appeared in Kaleidoscope (Number 84, Winter/Spring 2022), pages 14-19.
Ms. Kronenfeld is Lecturer Emerita, Department of Creative Writing at UC Riverside.
Author’s website: http://www.judykronenfeld.com/