Picture this

It skulked in the Oxfam window,
but nobody wanted to give their hard earned shillings
for a metre-square nightmare of
thickly slicked acrylic in eerie blue with
gloopy blood red paint glistening down the canvas,
as if it had dripped from a freshly slit wrist.

After two weeks we had to concede defeat. The only comments we’d received were negative, and most of them included a remark about
the single window
situated
beneath the eaves.
Folks shivered and said it was ghostly, they felt
something evil hid just beyond visibility; something they wouldn’t want to live with.

We were discussing whether we could recycle it,
or if it would be more realistic to put it in the skip.
Taking pity on the poor picture,
I gave a donation and picked it up
to take it home with the idea of getting creative.
I would embroider patches of fabric
and transform it into a beautiful thing.
Inspiration was stirring within
as I took the six minute walk to where I live.

When I was nearly there a man appeared behind me.
I turned to hear him extol the virtues of the painting.
he said it would look amazing in his place
and wanted to know if I was the artist. I said I wasn’t,
then explined that we couldn’t sell it in Oxfam

He eagerly offered the full asking price, and
right there in the street he pulled out his cash.
I crushed my wish to transform the picture.
He thrust the money into my hand.
I relinquished the canvas.
We chatted for a few minutes,
and when we parted we were both smiling,
each of us happier than we had been before we met,
each of us believing we had got the better deal.

Tomorrow I will relate my tale to the manager before putting the spoils in Oxfam’s till.

And soon,
somewhere in the world,
someone’s life will be improved
because I wanted to remodel an ugly piece of art,
and the right man happened to
walk past me at just the
right moment.

Β©Jane Paterson Basil

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36 thoughts on “Picture this

    1. When i started the poem all I was intending to do was to describe that moment when I realised the man wanted the painting, and I drew back slightly, holding it a little bit tighter, trying to keep it to myself, then almost instantly realizing I was being selfish.
      I’m off to Oxfam as soon as I’ve finished replying to comments. This is going to feel good…

      Liked by 1 person

  1. This is a wonderful story, Jane, the very definition of serendipity! I’m so glad the poor, gory canvas found a loving home. A lovely outcome all round. I have an ugly painting my father left me in his will, if you’re after a picture to customise πŸ™‚

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I’dlove to take it off your hands, but the chances are I’d sell it on the way home. That’s the kind of person I am (although I tried it again this week with a horrible triptych, and it didn’t work – maybe I shouldn’t have put the canvases in that massive carrier bag.
      I forgot to mention one bit of the story. As I hoiked it out of the shop, I jokingly told the manager I’d sell it on the way home, so she thought I’d been hawking it!

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Haha! Brilliant. Just a lovely tale all round – almost unbelievable if it wan’t true. Are you adapting the triptych at home? Covering it in fabric, adding a little new paint? Would be interested to see a ‘before’ and ‘after’ πŸ™‚

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        1. I didn’t know this until this morning, but I intend to write a word on each canvas in a cryptic way, so it will look like three abstract pictures. The words are Just, Move, and Forward, arranged in that order.
          For some reason I can’t upload photos, so I won’t be able to post images unless I get my arse into gear and sort it out.

          Liked by 1 person

                    1. Frankly? No, I didn’t – I just couldn’t bring myself to do anything. To tell the truth, I got broken, but now I’m all mended again – not exactly filled with inspiration, because I have to switch my subject matter, and I don’t know what direction it will take. But that’s ok πŸ™‚

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                    2. Glad to hear you’re mended, Jane. Sounds like you’ve had a tough time and I’m sorry to hear it. You taking a change of direction with your writing? That’s very tough. Whichever way you decide to go, I hope you can get some fulfillment from it – I hope it helps you. Love X

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                    3. I don’t think so. In fact I have a feeling that it’s not going to happen. I’m feeling quite lost – poems keep half-forming in my head, and I refuse to write them down, because they’re all about the same depressing stuff. Nothing else inspires me, even though the sun is shining. I feel eaten away by the constant pattern of hope and despair, and the unending daily disturbances to my life.
                      I’ll bounce back soon…

                      Liked by 1 person

                    4. You have to give yourself time, Jane. If you’ve been floored by something it can take a while to get back to an even keel, but it does happen. Maybe you should have two blogs – one continuing in the Making it Write vein, another one with different themes.

                      Liked by 1 person

                    5. Great minds etc – I was thinking of doing that, more as an experiment than anything else. It would possibly be a haiku blog, because I’m curious to see how well it would do. Haikus are very popular, possibly due to the little concentration required when reading them – but it may drive me crazy, because I can’t take them seriously, frankly.

                      Liked by 1 person

                    6. They have become popular, haven’t they? I noticed that from the Valentine’s comp – quite a few Haikus. Do you think it’s because the format is simple for even inexperienced poets? It’s one of those deceptive things that sounds easy, but when you read a good haiku, you can really tell. I definitely think there’s a ‘market’ out there for them. And you’re right – people love the short form.I’m curious, why can’t you take them seriously?

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                    7. Probably for the same reason I can’t take Japanese art seriously – there are too many rules, and little room for originality. How many times could you look at almost identical paintings of bamboo without expiring from boredom?
                      If Van Gogh had been Japanese the world would have suffered a huge lossAND he would ave been a failed artist no matter how he tried to conform to the rules.
                      I’m not sure I can tell the difference between a good Haiku and an indifferent one…

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                    8. I can’t be doing with Japanese gardening either – taming nature to such an extent it looks artificial is just plain odd. And Bonsai? That’s just tree torture.
                      As for a good Haiku – I don’t know technically, but there’s something pleasing on the ear and they tell some truth in so few syllables.Sometimes a set form can be restrictive, but sometimes people can really make them work.
                      Personally, I’m a rambler, so am useless at Haikus – probably not a good person for throwing out advice, then!

                      Liked by 1 person

                    9. I did Ikebana when I was in my 20’s. I don’t know what induced me, unless it was the need to exercise control over nature.
                      I’ve just had a lightbulb moment – that’s what it is, isn’t it? Japanese gardening, art, flower arranging; a need to control.

                      Liked by 1 person

                    10. Yes, it seems to be a common thread, doesn’t it? Funny national trait. Wonder what ours as a nation is? We’re known as uptight, I think, not prone to displays of emotion (quite right too, if you ask me!) and we used to be known for being polite, though that feels as if it’s slipping away. Oh, and known for our bad teeth – by Americans, anyway πŸ™‚

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                    11. Hmm, yes. I think sterotypes stick for a long time and we are perhaps still seen as football hooligans from the troubles in the 70s and 80s, though that part of the game is more controlled these days.
                      Pretty sure there are parts of Spain and a lot of Greek islands that see us as alcoholic yobs, too 😦

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