Matisse’s Bouquet de Fleurs pour le Quatorze Juillet, 1919

Jared Beloff

That summer pink flowers gave the least promise,
their heads bowed down out of the vase’s slender rim
revealing green stalks shivering to expand
before we registered the shock of purple pushing upward,
crowded by sweet williams’ and asters’ stilled propellers;
before we halted at the blue salvia still standing at attention,
their cobalt swelling up from the porcelain vase until they too
could no longer hold the line, snaking joy up onto the tapestry beyond.

When my father confessed his cancer had returned
I thought of the dull table holding Matisse’s bouquet,
how the sallow grain of the wood seems to fade in the light,
to pale as if the painter wanted to get that part over with,
return to the vase and blues that wrestle against the rot
that would become them. The table’s legs cut from the frame,
its sturdiness understood as roses rupture in shadows
on the floor, advancing across the rug’s black expanse.

Jared Beloff is a teacher and poet who lives in Queens, NY with his wife and two daughters. You can find his work in Contrary Magazine, The Westchester Review, Gyroscope Review and others. You can find him online at Follow him on twitter @read_instead.