SALUT, MADAME CEZANNE!

    for Hortense Fiquet 

Pegi Deitz Shea

At the Met, I bristle

through an exhibit 

and call to my uncle,

dead just a year: 

Pierre, as a young sculptor

in Ecole des Beaux Arts,

what did you make of 

the Madame Cezannes?


In 29 portraits 

Hortense

buttoned-up

never smiles, 

never smirks,

never seeks 

light with her eyes.

Did her back ache

from sitting

still as an apple

for her husband

150 times per portrait?

Is she choleric 

having been caché

for 17 years—

Paul too ashamed 

of her low status,

afraid to lose

Papa’s allowance.


Pierre, in your hands,

she could not have

contained her mirth

nor you your mischief.

You’d have unbuttoned her,

untied her, undermined

the lines of her closed lips.

Clothed in clay,

your fingers would have

poured across the funnel

of her clavicles

trickled down her cleavage

waded into orchards

of neglected fruit.


Hortense, Pierre, 

my muses, salut!

Now, here

in the Grand Hall

of the Met, 

a jazz quartet

models the music

you dare to make 

dimensions beyond

a brush stroke’s dream!

Prophecy 

(After Paul Gauguin, Tehura,  sculpture, ca. 1891-1893, Tahiti)

Pegi Deitz Shea


From courts in distant future,

a young girl called to you.

Original, self-confident,

she demanded pua wood.

You chipped locks from light brown grain,

and chiseled challenging eyes.

You widened cheeks, flared her nose

carved her chin daringly high,


set determined lips together,

pua blossom over her ear,

named the work of art Tehura

meaning leader without fear.


You brought her from Tahiti;

now, she reigns on Quai d’Orsay.

I see her—Serena Williams,

Queen of Roland Garros clay.