after An Artist [Begins Her Life’s Work] at 72.
Molly Peacock, subtitle for A Paper Garden
The happenstance of a few fallen petals, geranium red –
heeded by the keen eye of Mrs. Mary Delany, who then,
with initiative and acumen, snipped identical paper shapes
of a matching shade, layering them as the flower itself had done.
Magnolia followed, along with lobelia, nodding thistle,
damask rose, winter cherry, opium poppy, bloodroot,
all stunning in their verisimilitude of contour and hue: saffron,
scarlet, vermilion, cerise, turquoise, ivory, indigo, gold.
Each mosaick she produced – near one thousand —
was botanically correct, leaf-, stem-, and petal-perfect,
frank in its display of a blossom’s sexuality: pistils
and stamens aroused in 18th century Georgian England.
May Mrs. Delany’s lucky petals fall again
in metaphoric splendor before my eager eyes
awakening me to spit and fire with sensuality of word
and fearlessness of deed at whatever age I shall begin.
Born into a family of Oshkosh Wisconsin actors, Donna Barkman started performing in kindergarten. Her solo play, “Hand-Me-Downs” was recently produced in NYC and Westchester. Her poetry has been published in Chautauqua, String Poet, Per Contra, Boston Literary Review, Common Ground, Adrienne Rich: a Tribute Anthology, and others. She has enjoyed two arts residencies in Wyoming. Following a career as a librarian, with a degree from UW-Madison, she currently teaches children’s literature at Bank Street College, NYC.