Happy Birthday, Andrew Wyeth
(July 12, 1917 - January 16, 2009)
It was a last squint and a quiet passing, so clear
no one held a mirror close to your craggy face.
The sweetness of desire, enthrallment
with a German girl, someone else's wife,
and shyly you ask if you might... paint her.
Borrowed attic, autumnal field: Helga comes
thirsty... drinks plain iced tea from your cup.
You speak of distant stars or newspaper
delivery boys... only Helga on the bed knows,
turning over and over, droplets of sweat
dampening an off-white Montgomery Wards
cotton sheet. Her secret. Your secret.
Wild blonde hair, most often in pigtails,
no silly grins, her full breasts, farm-fit body
summer-moist... she lets you,
position her for the immortality
of sugar-loaded light.
Your secret. Wife untold.
Her secret. Husband untold.
Your hands skim perfect skin
and you catch the scent
of oranges and leather gloves
and she silently watches
you bulge and... perhaps she....
And in the last years she strokes
your spasmed muscles,
props your head up
for an extra pillow...
lets her hair down, her wild
golden hair in light not tarnished
by fame for being your Helga...
muse and naked angel.