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Richard Widerkehr

In Grandma Hale’s Painting, Which She Gave Me

Mahantango Valley Farm by Unknown American Artist

Nothing can keep the white farmhouse
from floating in moonlit smoke from a black locomotive.

The molten orange field
in an invisible sun whose gold haystacks
can’t stop glowing.

The sun, the moon, a brother and sister,
two black-and-white cows—

near one’s nose, a bee
almost big as the incredulous bonnet
our Grandma’s cousin Millie

wore in the asylum on Long Island.
I never wanted children, our Mom told me.

Oh white triangle of fruit trees,
oh red barn roof.

Say what you want about the Jews—
they make good family men,
said Grandma.

The place inside the barn.

Oh frozen cherry trees. Oh two white silos.


About the writer:
Richard Widerkehr’s fourth book is Night Journey (Shanti Arts Press). His previous book was At The Grace Cafe (Main Street Rag Publications. His work has appeared in Open, Writer’s Almanac, Atlanta Review, and many others.  He won two Hopwood first prizes for poetry at the University of Michigan and first prize for short story at the Pacific Northwest Writers Conference. He has poems in Take A Stand: Art Against Hate (Raven Chronicles Press), which won the 2021 Washington State Book Award for poetry.  He reads poems for Shark Reef Review.

Image: Mahantango Valley Farm by Unknown American Artist. Oil on window shade. 28 x 36 5/16 inches. Late 19th century. Public domain.

OJAL Art Incorporated, publishing since 2017 as OPEN: Journal of Arts & Letters (O:JA&L) and its imprint Buttonhook Press, is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit corporation supporting writers and artists worldwide.

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