Robert Webb

The Art of Oppression

        after Rivera’s "The Flower Carrier"

Why, under Rivera’s brush, is
this peasant crushed by flowers?
They’re pink—chrysanthemums—
radiant in the oppressive light
of the workday sun.  And yet
they topple poor Angel,
clad in his old, soiled whites.
The yellow sash which supports his cache
slices into his throat; his sandaled feet
offer little traction.  A sturdy woman,
perhaps his mother, Maria,
tries to help him to his feet, but, to no avail.
What a fate!  Choked by the weight of what
becomes his funeral wreath.
Still, Angel musters a tight-lipped smile,
as though he has a secret
he will not share: not with Maria,
not with the flowers, nor with Diego,
his father and creator, not even
as the last stroke of the brush
caresses his umber face.

Copyright 1998, Robert Webb
Robert Webb was the founding editor of Emory University's Lullwater Review.  He received a Georgia Council for the Arts grant for poetry in 1992, and Amelia Press brought out his chapbook, Stations of the Cross, in 1994.  He works as a communications/community relations manager for Mohawk Industries and serves on a number of civic and charitable boards.

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