One Poem by Mathew Wenham

Written in response to this month’s Special Challenge.

The Painter and the Peasant

I have to pretend
to embrace with my frame
the wide, mottled sky
and its uneven floor of trees.

I pretend to stir with interest
to life the copper silt
of the sullen pond and knot
the pale birch
with careful brush.

The distant pitch of terra-
cotta roofs are supposed to spill
their clays across the canvas
and walk the eye
to the waterside path beaten
with feet and time.

I probably shouldn’t set the poplars
forever apart on the precarious hill,
I shouldn’t stroke dark their leaves
with the knowledge that to hold
the other with gentle limbs
the structuring soil must fall away…

And I shouldn’t paint her.

Even melting into the deep
greens and flecked golds of the bank,
I shouldn’t paint the rose
nape of her neck, the whispered tuck
of her peasant’s dress.

And I shouldn’t lean
like a desperate willow
across the cold pond
to a forbidden shore.


Mathew Wenham is currently the Head of Senior English and Literature at a secondary college in Melbourne, Australia. He has previously worked in multiple Australian universities as a teacher of philosophy and psychology. Mathew is a long-time lover of poetry, and is now in the early stages of his path as a poet. His work has been shorlisted for the 2020 Ada Cambridge award and his poems have appeared online at Nine Muses Poetry, Better Than Starbucks and The Society of Classical Poets.

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