Gauguin’s Tahitians at the Impressionist Exhibit, by Adela Najarro

This is a poem about love that does not focus. This unfocused poem
mentions how hands imprinted themselves on my ribcage, how we fell
into cracked concrete near the museum, how molecular cell division
led to an entrance. There were pigeons in rain, then jeweled paint
on canvas. We sang of desire, the desire to grow old and paint landscapes:
cliffs open to a raging sea that breaks past fog and wind—an homage

to Gauguin’s pre-Tahiti phase. His cliffs were swatches of orange, paired
above a cavernous gray churning crash of sea against rocks—angel’s wings
mid-fall, the fall from grace open in a joyous flutter against the tumultuous
unknown. The cliffs remain cast in a startled phase: angels open
and waiting, those angels taking in the sea, the sea enveloped by its own
gravity, the rocks crying. The painting moves in my mind, not staying still.

We, too, will become old. Gauguin ended sitting in sand. The Tahitian girls,
behind, to the left. Distant and away. All lovely women have lives
of their own. The Tahitians kept themselves unknowable and did not pay
heed to the swirls engulfing Eden, to Gauguin’s tussled hair, to his hungry
eyes ravishing their skin. He was the Western world. Ready to paint,
to capture living myth and mythos, he settled into his own solitary heart.


Published in Cider Press Review, Volume 15, Issue 1.

Adela Najarro’s poetry has appeared in numerous journals and can be found in the University of Arizona Press anthology The Wind Shifts: New Latino Poetry. She currently chairs the English department at Cabrillo College and is on the board of directors for Poetry Santa Cruz. Her poems have appeared in Puerto del Sol, Feminist Studies, Notre Dame Review, Nimrod International Journal of Poetry & Prose, Blue Mesa Review, Crab Orchard Review, ACM: Another Chicago Magazine, and elsewhere.

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