Their faces are blank, these two women,
heads inclined towards the book they've already entered.
A certain blue enters your soul.
Of course they are blue, though gold surrounds them
like a vibration, an aura.
I would plunge my head into the water.
Between submersion and surfacing
what colour might one see,
how might the droplets of water shimmer with light?
Black is not a mood
but a frame, an undercurrent. Imagine it
in the orchestra of colours.
Black is the double bass.
The vase of flowers is the other actor
in the room. Don't ignore it.
It blooms out of the stillness with its own force.
It is all there. Everything we see
is inscribed in a small chamber.
We cross the threshold.
We read ourselves
into the heart of it, the silence.
Linda Anderson is a Professor in the School of English at Newcastle University, where she has taught since 1979, having originally lived in North East Scotland. She's now Director of the Newcastle Centre for the Literary Arts, which, though run from the University, is, she hopes, a resource for all readers and writers in the region.
"I wrote this poem after having been on holiday near Collioure in France where Matisse lived and painted at the beginning of the 20th century. At the same time I was reading Hilary Spurling's biography of Matisse and was thinking a lot about his use of windows and the way his paintings allow glimpses into another world. This is true of this painting too, though now that world seen through the window, the painting suggests, is also an inner world, discovered through reading. I used some of Matisse's own phrases in the poem and allowed him, as it were, to lead me towards the meditative space he represents.
Linda has had poems published, amongst other places, in Poetry Review, Stand, London Magazine, The Rialto, Agenda. She hopes she'll eventually have time to put a collection together.
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The Silence Living in Houses © 2010 Linda Anderson: used with permission.
Copyright of this poem remains with the poet: please do not download or republish without permission.