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
America Poetry Review
, DMQ, Angle, Primavera, Versal, Poetry
, 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
longed for.

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

ISSN 1931-3888

Volume 2, Number 2
(Fall 2007)

Copyright © 2007
by Leah Browning, Editor.  

All future rights to material
published in the
Valley Review
are retained
by the individual authors
and artists.