Monday, April 4, 2016

ARTSPEAK! 2016: Poem #4 "Gardener's Companion"

Hello, and welcome to day 4 of my National Poetry Month poem-a-day-project ARTSPEAK! in which I respond to images found in the online collections at the National Gallery of Art. Please join me, if you feel so inspired! One thing I love about writing poems after art is how wide and varied the responses can be. Fun!

We are just back from a wonderful few days in Los Angeles, which might have something to do with today's choice of painting... oh the things that nourish us! More on this in a minute.

First, I do hope you'll pop in on Diane at Random Noodling to see how our Progressive poem is progressing!

Okay, back to ARTSPEAK! This year's theme is "Plant. Grow Eat." It was inspired by the release of my latest book FRESH DELICIOUS: Poems from the Farmers' Market. Here are the poems so far:

Today's image "The Watering Can" really speaks to me. Something I'm learning about myself as I write these poems inspired by art is that I really love still life images. I especially love giving voice to those inanimate objects whose stories need to be told! I'm also drawn to the fun of imagining myself as something else, and also the freedom that allows me as a poet. I mean, since a watering can can't actually talk, I can give it whatever life I choose! I find this kind of writing delightful. And, this one turned out to be kind of a riddle poem, which I wasn't expecting. I do try to write a poem that can also stand alone (without the art), and I think this one does. I am more successful with some poems than with others!

Also, here we go again: readers from last year may remember I discovered a theme in my ARTSPEAK! poems -- waiting. Here it is again, in this poem. Poems certainly reveal us, don't they?

Gardener's Companion
- after Watering Can by Georges Seurat

I wait for the farmer
through the afternoon heat –

I go where the hosepipe
cannot reach.

Sometimes I spring a leak,
but even then,

I never speak.

When the sun beams

my skin gleams
like a leaping silver fish.

I have but one wish:
come now,

take me into your hands –
I am a watering can.

- Irene Latham

Listen to the poem on Soundcloud! (Turns out *I* can't see the embedded file, but others can... so maybe it's an issue with my own browser... still working on it!)


  1. "My skin gleams like a silverfish." This watering can looks lonely waiting, but you paint a patient picture with your words.

  2. I so much like the sounds in this. And with a soft spot for old metal watering cans, I wish I could reach in and pick it up! So happy this series is back. xx

  3. You make me want to go water my flowers. Oh, I really should since I just planted them yesterday! Lovely work, as always.

  4. It's such a gentle and quiet watering can, Irene. Yes, you have put the theme of "waiting" in this one too. I like that you focused on the can in the painting instead of "all" of it.


Your thoughts?