Gone are column & filigree, the onlooking
crowds. Crisp brushwork gives way to mottled
impressions, thick impasto. No pearl shine

& forget the boasting of ruffles. Simplicity
over grandeur as his pageantry fades
to self-scrutiny. We didn’t know my mother

was dying when she started unloading
her favorite books by the dozens
& then her tchotchkes. She emptied

her Lady Buxton, her cedar
chest full to the top with coverlets
& needlepoint. Take it all,

she instructed.  One night after Wheel
of Fortune she blurted the secret
of a flaky crust & firm

meringue. I scribbled it down. The den
was dark but her face bright
like a red-glowing camp

fire ember. In his last self-portrait,
Rembrandt dons a red coat, so dark
it treads to black. Brown walls

like deer fur surround him, the only
gleam from beneath the skin,
his forehead & cheeks afire.