The Art Farm

August Kleinzahler

Another season comes to a close.
Sunflowers nod, the mallards grow restive
and hoarfrost sparkles on the lawns
well into morning. After some discussion,
the badminton nets finally come down.
For one last time the cleaning ladies
strip off the bedclothes of the week’s guest artist
and do what they can with the wine stains.
Jerk, they say to themselves, village girls
with almost no experience of art.

Like a caravan, the Toyotas, Saabs and 4x4s
head south, breaking up among the interchanges
north of Boston and going their separate ways:
some to the nation’s colleges,
where they take up their residencies once more,
even with the thunder of football season upon them;
some to the warrens and fastnesses of Brooklyn,
where the young, these days, position themselves.

Behind them, a cold front from Canada moves in
across the wooded peaks and ridges, settling
among the valleys and turning to mush
the late vegetables, finishing off
what’s left of the blackberries, deep in their brambles.
Beauty is difficult. Yes, yes, of course it is.
How would it be otherwise? Of course, of course.
But what a lot of good talk about process

and stimulating tête-à-têtes. Energised, inspired, even,
one leaves this peaceful place – fructified.
Yes, that would be the word, exactly.
Reluctantly, one returns to the world
and all its quotidian bother, fructified.
And with them goes their art, these cheerful
and satisfied customers, packed safely away
in their trunks and back seats: the rolled canvases
and tools; manuscripts-in-progress
safely transferred to hard disk and awaiting

application of all that encouragement and good counsel:
ready for a final, determined push
to completion and a great big FUCK YOU for you know who.
Dwayne closes up the place for winter, stapling
plastic up over the bookshelves, the ping-pong table,
bringing in the deckchairs and the rest.
Good ol’ Dwayne. The traffic begins to congeal,
just east of Hartford and the turn-off near Poughkeepsie.
You’re going to hit it sooner or later.
Sooner or later, it can’t be helped.