As an old man, he grew his hair long
and wore it unsecured, flowing white over his shoulders,
hiking it back as he walked with one sure toss of the head.
Few except himself would have judged him anything but superior.
His art, original and finely-crafted, showed him as the rogue he was,
yet he pored over art books piled around his chair—
large books rich in imagery and heavy to lift—
a laborious chore to plow through
page by page for anyone except him,
looking for himself in the pages, perhaps,
or looking for part of what he would become.
She thought he thought too much,
looking for answers in books
instead of in himself.
Religion, philosophy, art—
he searched for solutions
in Swedenborg and Picasso.
Compared his poetry to Sarton, Frost and Whitman
while others compared their art, their words to him.
Every piece he completed, he saw himself in as he created it,
but once done, it was as though he’d lost a part of himself in it
and so he started the search again in metal and wood and stone
larger and heavier each time, risking everything
to build himself ever higher.
Seven feet, then twelve, then eighteen feet—
stretching himself to the heaven
that he sought, also, through books.
Searching for what to be.
Wood, stone, metal, clay, glass, paper, words.
None quite solved the puzzle of himself.
Books on the shelf he read again and again
never had all of the answers.
He went as deep into himself as he could go.
Digging for the words he mined
from the parts of himself he most feared,
he often came up empty-handed,
as though he could not bear to see
all of the truth already revealed
in the pure instinctual lines of his sculpture
and those few fine poems he got out of the way of.
A virile man, he worked his angst out
in the shape of children—ten of them
with three different women—going through women
as he went through plasticine or wood or stone,
leaving crumbled remnants to reconstruct themselves
afterwards, as he built poetry out of their mutual pain.
He moved through the world
as most beautiful things do—unaware of his swath.
I rose from his rubble, missing him but remembering
all he taught. The scrape and cut and vibration of a fine machine,
the shaping with hands, the dip of the mold and deckle,
the power of a 20-ton press, the fine hiss of a torch.
Showing me how to get the beauty out of myself,
he formed that confidence within me that he lacked in himself.
Looking in books for what he already had,
looking in the faces of women for love
he never quite believed in,
he never fully realized that it did exist,
even during his worst rages,
right here in the heart
of one who so long afterwards
tries to sculpt his essence
through these words.
(Click on photos to enlarge.)
Here is also a write-up and photo shoot that a gallery owner did of our home and studio during the Santa Cruz Open Studio Tours a few years before we closed down our house and studio to I move to Mexico: http://www.wmgallery.com/cruz/brown.html
And here is another blog I did on him and his art: https://judydykstrabrown.com/tag/bobs-sculpture/
Prompt words today were hike, write, original and superior.