Propped up on high white pillows
in the bed, he said:
I remember visiting her studio
that first time. Four floors up,
cold water down the hall.
I had to climb up the fire escape
because of another painter.
Dusty beams and ducts
criss-crossed the high brickwork,
and orange light seemed
always to be roaring
through the grimy, fretted windows.
Her fingers were always caked
with pigments-chrome yellows, whites-
and I remember thinking fleetingly,
I'll die of lead poisoning.
But you didn't, I remarked.
One of his daughters had come in
and asked if he needed anything
and when he said no
had kissed him on the forehead.
Well it wasn't for lack of trying,
he said smiling to himself.