Poetry: Arrangement in Red and Gold, Number One by David Mohan
David Mohan’s “Arrangement in Red and Gold” explores the art of remembering, of what remains in elegy for the parent “horizontal” and now gone. “lush by light,” the speaker declares—or at least, hopes—in reflection.
Arrangement in Red and Gold, Number One
In our bed-bound composition,
mother, you were horizontal.
No model fell too sick to stand,
and it wasn’t an oil, or a painting,
or the back of an old canvas.
We hadn’t even guessed it was death
come to visit, hadn’t practised our pose.
Nor were you dressed for your part,
your henna hair always too bright,
red-gold, unlike Whistler’s mother
you wouldn’t hide it in white linen;
accept grey shades in your orbit
of blusher, sweat a mix with paint,
(the sort worn on a face). So what
it was was negatives born of
our ignorance, an arrangement
of colours ordered by someone else,
not us, not ours, the final pose.
And all it was—your face made lush
by light, fresh blood, knowledge.
No, it wasn’t even prepped canvas—
it was a bed and November,
the light unobserved,
so that I only remember red-gold.
David Mohan is a poet and short story writer based in Dublin. His poetry has been published in The Cincinnati Review, Spoon River Poetry Review, Lake Effect, Stirring, Measure, Superstition Review, New World Writing, PANK and Dialogist. His poetry has been nominated for The Pushcart Prize.