In the Dream I Paint You
by Karen Schubert
After Vuillard’s “Mother and Sister of the Artist”
Mother is a chair. I make her arms
frame space that holds no one,
lay her knotted hands white on
the black dress upholstery.
I silk back her hair behind the childish
ears that fold out from her face,
not a woman’s face either. You
remember the way mother got old
without growing up. Do you look
scared because I made you a wall?
or did I make you a wall because
you were scared, your checkered
dress puffing along the slim of you,
the yellows dancing with the mottled
wallpaper, your ceilinged back and tight
red hair over me, the light from the window
on your cheeks, you and all I love
in that room, the table with a newly
finished meal, the cherry dresser
behind Mother, and all the smells
of that room. How did I end up
in this lonely place? My sister, step
out of that wall. I’m coming home.
Karen Schubert is a graduate student in creative writing at Cleveland
State. She is editor of Whiskey Island, which comes with a sky-blue
office on the 16th floor. Recipient of Youngstown State’s Hare Award
for poetry, her poems have been published or are forthcoming in Mid-
America Poetry Review, DMQ, Angle, Primavera, Versal, Poetry
Midwest, Apple Valley Review, and others.
On “In the Dream I Paint You”:
Vuillard’s painting has a surreal or dreamlike quality that drew me in.
There is also a tenderness, a familiarity that I don’t assume—many
people don’t know the people who are closest to them. The room,
though it is small, feels cozy to me rather than claustrophobic, and
Writing poems from art gives the writer a chance not just to describe
something, but to take up residence inside someone else’s imagination,
and write their way out of it.
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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