Tea with Monet and Michelangelo


Shiloh Sophia in AWE by Jonathan Lewis

Girl Unfurled Two
Femme se Ouvrit II

Cantos 15-18: Giverny to Florence
Tea with Monet and Michelangelo


15. Quindici: Monet’s Poppies

Your orange red poppies called me.

Unexpected color and anticipated

years of waiting to see them and

here I was, with you, enjoying the day.

At the edge of your fields

standing where you stood

I could not help but ask you questions.

You were so kind to answer and

to show me where to put my brush.
Just here. Not there, here.

A poppy petal must be placed

quickly and without care

but with absolute attention.

Do you understand this?

Do not try to copy to the poppy

it is the impression which

will live on in your soul,

and in this painting of yours.

The artists who came with me,

they were talking with you too.

In flowing dresses and sunhats,

French easels perched at attention.

Your poppies danced for us

in the gentle winds of Giverny.

Red petals flying in our hair.

The whole world disappeared.

Then we became the world,

the other seeksers came

off the afternoon buses and photographed us in your field.

Our art became a part of your art

in the eyes of your other guests.

I promise we were kind to them,

encouraging them to take up the brush.

Thank you, for your intricate gardens,

your adored waterlilies in bloom and

Japanese bridges for gazing from.

It was so lovely of you


Shiloh Sophia in Monet’s Poppy Field by Jonathan Lewis

to let us spend the day with you.

16. Sedici: Your Yellow Kitchen

I sat down in your big bright open yellow kitchen

with blue plates and teacups and listened.

You were in the other room having

a conversation and didn’t notice

I had come in. I was trying to make

out your words, you were talking

about the artists you were collecting

these days. Their art was all over your

home and you loved this art-created life,

making beauty all around you.

The kitchen suddenly became a bustle,

there was to be a wedding in the garden

that evening. I wanted so much to

be the flower covered bride, of my groom

there in your trellises.

I hoped you would toast to our

life together in your Monet’s gardens.

They swooshed me out of the kitchen so

I rose up and peaked into your study.

There you were standing

looking out the window. Your stance

so sure, certain even, confident in your beingness and seeingness.


by paintings floor to ceiling. Yours.

The smoke from your pipe smelled

familiar, like home and father.

I just love you in that hat.

Later when my darling and I sat

speaking of the day he showed me

the poppy petals and rose petals

he pressed into our book of love.

I have decided.

I am going to paint my kitchen

that same color yellow of

your yellow kitchen.


Monet’s Yellow Dining Room



Now off to Italy


17. Diciassette: Tea with Michelangelo

I came to your house yesterday.

I brought your favorite tea

and a color of pigment

I know you love, all the way from Paris.

I think you used this blue in the folds

the Madonna’s dress.

I looked for you there, patiently.

Waited for you in the courtyard

of your family. I thought I heard

your mother call to me from the

open window above. It was a dove.

My face turned to that opening

of sky where you sketched

those majestic clouds. I wanted

to take some home with me

and so I gathered a wisp of

white cloud into the hem

of my own blue dress

that I wore to meet you.

I knew you would understand,

this borrowing from God’s goodness.

I wanted to see David’s hand curled

and the veins in his arm pulsing. I came

to see the little baby God nursing

to see the Centaurs wrestling.

To see your desk, empty and expectant.

When I heard your cough,

the color blue in that room

entered just here, in my vein. Like David’s,

it pulses in me now.

I looked out through the open window

to the street below. Lingering on the sill,

was the dna of your elbow and forearm

still there beneath years of leanings out?

Seeing what you saw I chose art again.

In the end I chose not to disturb you.

You were bent over a drawing,

sienna red and sepia flying

from the end of your pencil

like small red birds into my heart.


View from the courtyard of Michelangelo


Looking out Michelangelo’s Window

18.  Diciotto: Anatomy of Angels

They say you were difficult,

seeing what you saw,

how could a man be easy?

Poet, sculptor, painter, architect,

illustrator, dreamer, friend of beauty.

I know that God loved you.

Few have seen what you saw.

You even attempted to paint

God himself. And the woman,

there under God’s arm, watching

everything and everyone,

I pretend sometimes it is me.

Some say Eve, some say Sophia,

some say Shekinah, Mary,  or Muse,

I say it is me

and every woman there

under the arm and rib of God

reaching for Adam’s hand.

As I crossed the road from

the doors of Casa Buonarroti

walking where you walked

on those same stones

I felt you rise up in a swirl

of light and I breathed into it.

We artists are a family

because we breath the same air.

This is the same air you breathed

as a young man with chisel in hand.

Knowing the image is already

in the stone.

Thank you for the anatomy of Angels

for what you did to find the

bones and flesh and bring

the Divine to life. Dissecting

there in the darkness of death

you gave life to us.

Taught us how to see

and to long for connection.

To reach for God’s hand

and to be a part of the story

of creation. You showed us this.

Shiloh Sophia – Tuscany July 8, 2013