by Moira Kirkwood
Snagged like a trout. I’m caught up in the chest, the heart. I find I’m looking at her through water. See her smile, refusing to look up as he teases: how about you lift that shirt a little higher? Her skin has an appetite for pleasure: the stream’s thrill and the heat of his gaze. Follow the turn of those seventeenth century legs. They’re both famous, so it’s as though we’re friends. I know where they lived and how. Then I know that special thing: the hour of their death. I take my tenderness and leave the Gallery. No scrap of empathy in this cold London air but I’ll stay warm.
I came across A woman bathing in a stream in the National Gallery where it resides amongst other masterpieces. It’s a small, roughly hewn work and at the time of my visit, modestly placed in a corner. I didn’t see it till I was right upon it, so I was kind of surprised by it. I found myself crying while I looked. Rembrandt has that effect on many of us!
Moira Kirkwood has written creatively all her life, but things started to take shape when she joined the South Coast Writers Centre several years ago. She did the Chicken Dance, privately in her own home, when her poetry was included in SCWC’s anthology Seeking Horizons (20014). In 2016, Mark Tredinnick told her he enjoyed a poem of hers. Everything since then has been more or less a happy haze. This year she was fortunate to attend Ron Pretty’s Masterclass, which helped her enormously.