“Still Life with Flowers” by Beth Brown Preston
“A good woman is not an artist by profession,” Momma warned me.
“She does not waste her time writing immature poetry while surviving
on the money she earns by dancing topless in a bar near Malcolm X Park.
She educates herself, finds a good job – a teacher or librarian –
and supports her husband and her children with the fruit of her career.
When she retires then she can write novels and paint.”
Momma cautioned me about the dangers of an artist’s life
when in sixth grade I revealed that I wanted to write poetry.
I painted my first canvas as a high school senior:
“The Breast” – an enormous picture of my bronze right teat.
I never painted with Momma’s skill:
the silent spaces between her flowers set them apart
as unique and lovely objects. She would seize her pencil or brush,
instinct surrounding us with her rites of righteous imagination:
still life with fruit in a bowl
still life with flowers in vases.
Momma, I fell moaning from the mouth of your womb
calling me a poet.
Now your canvasses remain so mysteriously alive
with memories of tulips, daffodils, and fleur-de-lis.
Beth Brown Preston’s Artist Statement: My writing is an integral part of my lifestyle. I write every day–whether it is my poetry, fiction, or keeping a journal. I write to express something deep within me that I want to share with my readers, and I write in order to better know myself.