Black Dog Enters the Sea of Monet

by Lynn Wagner


Lilies span the triptych     a full forty feet.     What keeps
   my heart awake,      the painter says,     is colorful silence.
A dragonfly alights     in a blur on black dog’s      nose
   yet Monet sees none of this.     The whole canvas
     now a bluer blue.   Black dog drifts

     out of the frame.    She casts    a wet shadow
while her paws      pedal slow circles     under water,
   a world    of violet and blues     and greens,   hint

of pink lotus     that part   with black dog’s calm
     paddling.     She cuts through     the clouds of heaven
          like a purple storm pressed     upon liquid
skin.       Clouds split      and coalesce     in her passing.  
    This swim, a silent running –  one long perpetual wave  


Lynn Wagner is the author of the chapbook, No Blues This Raucous Song. Her poems have appeared in Shenandoah, Subtropics, West Branch, Cavewall and other journals. She earned an MFA in Poetry from the University of Pittsburgh and lives and writes in Denver, Colorado where she teaches. poetry at Lighthouse Writers Workshop. Find her at https://lynnwagner.com.


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What surprising, fascinating stuff can you tell us about the origin, drafting, and/or final version of “Black Dog Enters the Sea of Monet”?

A friend took me to the Monet show at Denver Art Museum as a birthday present. Throughout the whole show I was salivating to see the water lilies. The exhibition had smaller ones but not the large paintings I remembered from abroad. I am working on a series of black dog poems so she entered in. The exact painting is “Reflections of Clouds on the Water-Lily Pond” at the MoMA. This poem benefitted from a workshop and a trusted poetry friend—thanks Chris, thanks Cate!


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