Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Visiting Chicago in May

The surface of the city
is peeled back in spring
the same as in the country. The same
tulip heads ripple from cavernous
troughs of stone
on the balcony above
a museum garden
shaded by low hanging trees

Where sunlight drops in pools
on straight beds of spring bulbs
flowering blue, pink, yellow and
weeded by two jovial gardeners
with surgical tools
next to loungers on the lawn

Inside the museum each gallery
is neatly hung and corralled
against the chaos
of the artists’ lives

While outside
on the street women open
like dancers at café tables, homeless
men hawking newspapers shout
in the vernacular
of a circus’s main event

Even the stoniest buildings
bounce with light,
with the impression of water


  1. There is movement and light bouncing from one place to another, reflected in the girls opening up like dancers!

    1. It was quite a contrast, Rosaria, from inside the museum to the street outside. I was fascinated watching people in both contexts. :)

      Thank you!

  2. Very, very nice poem. I, too, feel the bounce of light and impression of water.

    1. Thanks so much, George. Inge and I sat at a café across from the Art Institute for morning tea, and light and shadow played on the museum stone in such beauty!

  3. You give us a vivid, concise, impressionistic view of Chicago in spring, Ruth. It's clear you prefer out rather than in! There are enticing hints here of things I want to know more about: the 'surgical' tools and 'straight' beds contrasting with the vital human life on the streets — and, even more intriguingly, the contrast between the artists' lives and their ordered, gallery pictures... Another poem about strict order and seductive (?) chaos, I think! Great stuff.

    1. Many thanks, Robert, for your careful observations. This is the first visit to the Art Institute, or any museum, where I was conscious of preferring to be out more than in. I need small doses of galleries and museums, and then I have to take that out with me, and let it create its space. And truly, I smiled walking among those clean canvases, imagining the messy studios, homes, and lives of the artists.

  4. Ah, yes, this brings me back to our time together in Chicago this week. Thank you. It's better than any photograph. For me, it captures the moment we walked out of the AIC onto Michigan Avenue. Thank you.

    1. Thanks, Ing. As you know, this trip raised questions for me of "opening and closing." We perceive our world as it comes and goes, we pay attention to what inspires, and we can observe and honor the ways we do this differently. I'm excited to keep talking about this process (and the art and writing process).

  5. I know this was an insightful outing for you, Ruth. That you can write about it in poetic form is a wonderful gift!

  6. I love visiting Chicago during different times of the year. Did you get to visit the big giant bean , called the Cloud?

  7. You paint that urban landscape with such accurate detail that it is breathtaking.

    I can see those corralled, candy colored tulips anchoring the art museum, which houses its corralled beauty as well.


All responses are welcome.