FUGITIVE PIGMENTS by Ruth Bavetta
So I write a review. I want to share this collection of Bavetta’s poetry with everyone. Even with those who have not really ‘got into’ poetry (yet). What on earth do I say about something that’s as finely drawn as her pencil ‘paintings’, as delicate yet as strong as a spider web (with water droplets deposited on it which glisten like little jewels in the morning, midday or evening sun). Yes, well… I am in love.
Every poem is a little world of pain, love and delight and never will she get heavy. It’s as though she’d used butterfly wings to write, each metaphor a delightful surprise and you ask yourself simply, ‘Why didn’t this ever occur to me, it’s perfect.’ And then there are her descriptions which may as well be painted. How could I not delight in ‘secrets detained in shining glass bottle’, ‘vanished like thoughts unspun’, ‘A sweet plum / of a word, slide it // across the spoon / of your tongue.’ATELIER
on page 16 says it all.
In EDNA ROSALIE
on page 19 Bavetta wonders about the woman who was her grandmother: ‘ask if her husband / demanded the divorce or if she threw him out, / discuss raking light and the angels of Raphael. // Did the young chauffeur salve her heart?’
On page 21 in WHAT IS LEFT TO SHOW THAT I WAS HERE
she would like to be remembered in colors: ‘Look for me in the Aurelian pollen / of Cerulean lilacs, in the ache of Mars Violet.’
Bavetta is subtle, she paints pictures with words as she would with a pencil or a brush. Reading her poems I became lighter than gravity will normally allow me to be. Her poetry is very feminine, which has nothing at all to do with fluffy but with woman. Emotional, strong, nurturing, hurting, teasing, thoughtful and, above all, honest.
Just read this and marvel:SELF-PORTRAIT
(Alice Neel, 1980, oil on canvas
Eighty you are, Alice, planted
in a blue-striped chair, more naked
than nude. In one hand you hold a brush
like a baton, as if conducting your life;
in the other, a rag for wiping out mistakes.
Your breasts, like mine, droop
over an abdomen poured like a land slump
onto plump thighs. Pizza, pregnancies,
peanut butter, whiskey, long sweet afternoons
in the studio instead of in the gym.
Turkey neck, jewels, marriage, divorce,
paint under the fingernails. I see myself
with the same down-turned mouth,
the same skeptical stare, and wonder
how we got our bodies through it all.
You used to say an empty chair by the window
would be your only self-portrait. Save
that chair for me, Alice. I’m drawing close.
Tell me how to come ashore.RUTH BAVETTA
was a visual artist for many years until she realized she also wanted images that could be painted with words. Her poetry has been widely published in poetry magazines and anthologies. Her art has been shown nationwide. She loves the light on November afternoons, the smell of the ocean, a warm back to curl against in bed. She hates pretense, fundamentalism, and sauerkraut.