The Painter & The Fish, a poem, by Raymond Carver

All day he’d been working like a locomotive, I mean he was painting, the brush strokes coming like clockwork. Then he called home. And that was that. That was all she wrote. He shook like a leaf. He started smoking again. He lay down and got back up. Who could sleep if your woman sneered and said time was running out? He drove into town. But he didn’t go drinking. No, he went walking. He walked past a mill called “the mill.” Smell of fresh cut lumber, lights everywhere, men driving jitneys and forklifts, driving themselves. Lumber piled to the top of the warehouse, the whine and the groan of machinery. Easy enough to recollect, he thought. He went on, rain falling now, a soft rain that wants to do its level best not to interfere with anything and in return asks only that it not be forgotten. The painter turned up his collar and said to himself he wouldn’t forget. He came to a lighted building where, inside a room, men played cards at a big table. A man wearing a cap stood at the window and looked out through the rain as he smoked a pipe. That was an image he didn’t want to forget either, but then with his next thought he shrugged. What was the point? He walked on until he reached the jetty with its rotten pilings. Rain fell harder now. It hissed as it struck the water. Lightning came and went. Lightning broke across the sky like memory, like revelation. Just when he was at the point of despair, a fish came up out of the dark water under the jetty and then fell back and then rose again in a flash to stand on its tail and shake itself! The painter could hardly credit his eyes, or his ears! He did just had a sign-– faith didn’t enter into it. The painter’s mouth flew open. By the time he reached home he quit smoking and vowed never to talk on the telephone again. He put on his smock and picked up his brush. He was ready to begin again, but he didn’t know if one canvas could hold it all. Never mind. He’d carry it over onto another canvas if he had to. It was all or nothing. Lightning, water, fish, cigarettes, cards, machinery, the human heart, that old port. Even the woman’s lips against the receiver, even that. The curl of her lip.

copyright Charlotte Hutson Wrenn 2012

I was called to be an artist. And as an old old midwife said to me "If the Lord wants you to do something, you won't have no good luck' til you do." So, here I am, sharing what I love, longing to illuminate the work of art, which is everywhere.

Posted in Arts & Culture
4 comments on “The Painter & The Fish, a poem, by Raymond Carver
  1. Pam Goode says:

    I love this Charlotte!

  2. Kim in Fiji says:

    Love the story and the painting. Was going to ask why you didn’t make the protagonist a female when I realized what the post’s title signified. Oops. Maybe you’ll be inspired to write your own story soon. I’d love to hear a story for the tree tunnel pictures!

    • Kim! Hello! Great to hear from you. The poem is breathtaking to me. And I just happened to have a painting to accompany it:) Painting isn’t words though. It is it’s own language. Raymond Carver wrote about painters and how they work so beautifully in this. The poem just blows my socks off. I hope you’re well and happy sweetheart. Blessings.

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What’s this?

Welcome to my blog about the Lowcountry of South Carolina, a place proud with beauty, history and art. Sometimes we feel a call, to be, to go, to do. I was called to be an artist, and as an old midwife from Alabama said, “If the good Lord wants you to do something, you won’t have no good luck until you do it.”

So here I am writing about what I know, about the 'under glimmer' as the poet Basho, says, the way I have learned to see, to notice. I am inspired by, and talking about the history and art and culture of this place that has called me to herself. By the ancestors.

My background includes a degree in fine arts from a small private college in Florida, and before that, four years of all girls' boarding school in Asheville. I worked as a professional photographer, helped my children grow up, and now and I love seasoned things, good food, better conversation, beauty, my beloved and beautiful Italian Greyhound, Beau. Moved by the sacred places and stories of this beautiful historic land called the Lowcountry, I am here in spirit and I hope to infect you with my love of this place.

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