The Painting & Poetry Project 2021

Week 8: The River

Year 2021. What does it mean to you? To Addie and I, it is full of hope and promise. It is a turning point. The beginning of the end of a pandemic. The end of a volatile presidency and a return to sensible governance. The end of quarantines, isolation, and social distancing and a return to physical human interaction. We will once again congregate, gather with those we love, see them up close, touch and feel again … not in an impersonal virtual space, but in the very real and beautiful world.


The eighth theme for the year is the river.

May what I do flow from me like a river,
no forcing and no holding back,
the way it is with children.

Rainer Maria Rilke, from The Book of Hours (translation by Anita Barrows & Joanna Macy)


Imaging Summer


The River

I came back to sit on this dusty patch of ground of my birthplace, 
by the side of a wide, flowing river.
Here lay the bones of my father, 
and the bones of my mother. 

 I am fractured, 
as they once were. 

I open the morning sun-gift, 
and scatter the gold on the cattails and the rushes.
The vault of the weeping willow, 
under which I gather myself, 

The sparrows come and dance. 
They share my bread.
I have read their book and interpret their songs. 
Their sense is keen and mark between 
the gentle deer and the yellow-fanged dog. 

Does the river purify or destroy?
Each morning I unravel dawn’s gilded question,
threading night into day. 

I have not seen the sea,
but heard stories of the monsters living there, 
and the pitiless fathoms, 
and the dark worlds beneath.
If I am stranded on open water for nights at a time, 
will I learn the language of the moon? 
Will I learn its secrets, too? 

In this wild and lovely moment,
I hear a new call for the old promise.
This river is true life.

Unmoor your boat and take your chances. 


Brad & Addie

We want to celebrate 2021 with an outpouring of creativity and optimism!

We’ve selected 52 themes (one theme per week for the year), and each week for 2021, I will write a poem and Addie will paint a painting inspired by that theme.

This is the sort of big project that artists live for … where we can say what we yearn to say.  Big picture stuff. Heart wrenching stuff. Expect surprises, love, and a passion for life.

Check Out Addie’s Instagram Account:

Check out Addie’s art studio — Studio Alchemy:

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