The Abstract Artist on Her Deathbed
for Janet Sobel (1893-1968)
My paintings—not my life—flash before my eyes.
For decades I tried to paint the heartbeat of the universe,
filling a thousand empty canvases with something more than stars
and darkness, more than the atoms that no longer bind me
to this world. I watch the five moons of my children orbit overhead
as I drift away. They weep for me as they wept for their father
when he departed this world more than fifteen years before,
never knowing the truth that he took with him, the truth I still carry
in my failing heart, the truth that art was the real center of my universe.
And now in death I must accept a truth just as harsh,
that the sound of the universe is nothing more than a chronic static hiss,
not a heartbeat at all, but a dying breath exhaled and unending.
Kip Knott’s most recent book of poetry, Clean Coal Burn, is available from Kelsay Books. His first collection of short stories, Some Birds Nest in Broken Branches, is forthcoming in 2022 from Alien Buddha Press. You can follow him on Twitter at @kip_knott and read more of his writing at kipknott.com. Currently, he lives in Delaware, Ohio, with his wife and son.