On Chagall’s World
by Bob Bradshaw
The bride and groom drifted in the air,
in silky blues and angelic whites.
No weather vane could have predicted
that they would drift over our roofs,
our houses as squat as jugs.
A cloud like a shed wedding gown
drifted at her feet. The sky yellow
and warm like fresh bread.
I sighed. My life
was stalled in chores and responsibilities.
They floated like streamers
in uplifting air currents.
They were kissing.
There was nothing to do but to turn
my head. Not from embarrassment
or a fear of intruding on their privacy
but because I was done with all that.
My shoes felt weighted with river rock.
They plowed through dust and soil.
There was dinner to prepare, onions
to slice. Potatoes to scrub.
Let them enjoy their moment. They
would be brought to earth
by Bob Bradshaw
My father was like the dog in the picture,
sitting by the Victrola.
He would turn his head toward me
when I spoke as if he were an amateur
soaking in the words of a maestro.
The most important thing
a father does is listen, he said.
I was nine and he promised great things for me.
He said I would probably discover
the next long haired comet.
My teachers sent
disappointing notes home.
My father said Ignore them.
will find you as surely
as a cat finds the only bowl
of milk in a house.
But before I was thirty
he became a lighting rod
for strokes. He toppled
onto the floor. His face ashen.
Tonight I’m looking up
like a dog tilting its head.
I keep waiting for the sky
to empty its pockets of stones.
Sometimes it’s enough
to just remember
my father. He believed
in me the way I believe
in my kids.
After I lost him
it wasn’t enough
to discover the next comet.
After him nothing in my short life
carried the same
Bob Bradshaw is a programmer living in Redwood City, California.
He is a big fan of the Rolling Stones, and has nominated the band as
one of the seven wonders of the modern world. His recent and
forthcoming work can be found at Eclectica, Slow Trains,
Umbrella Poetry Journal, Boston Literary Magazine, Blue Fifth
Review, and elsewhere. When he isn’t napping he can be reached at
On “On Chagall’s World”:
The only sustained period in my life when I dreamed in color was
a year that I spent saturated in art books on the Fauves and
Expressionists. Especially books on the Fauves, “the wild beasts,”
triggered my night’s colorful landscapes.
After spending the day with Nolde, Matisse, Derain, Chagall, and
others my nights became joyous interludes. I couldn’t wait to
Sometimes art changes your life. For me it didn’t happen in the
way I expected. I never learned to draw. I never mastered
perspective in my own life, much less on canvas. A life of painting
But a joy of color still enhances my life. I would love to live within
walking distance of the Museum of Modern Art. A rhythm of
color can bring peace or joy the way Beethoven’s sixth and ninth
symphonies can. In fact critics have compared Chagall’s work to
an “ode of joy.”
Seeing some of Chagall’s paintings again evoked a need to write
about his work. Maybe Chagall’s work was most enjoyed by me
at a much younger age. But does anyone ever really tire of
Chagall’s “Midsummer Night’s Dream” or Beethoven’s ninth?
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Apple Valley Review:
A Journal of Contemporary
Volume 2, Number 2
Copyright © 2007
by Leah Browning, Editor.
All future rights to material
published in the Apple
Valley Review are retained
by the individual authors