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Art as inspiration

back from the orchard

"Back from the Orchard" by Eastman Johnson

Every so often, someone will reach out to the Memorial Art Gallery to share the story of their own personal inspiration found within the walls of the Gallery. In the mail this week, Richard T. shares his favorite painting “Back from the Orchard” and the poem that it inspired. We asked permission to share it with you here. Enjoy.

Seen in a Frame

Sly Eyes is watching
the back porch, hoping Ma
won’t barrel out
and yell, “Now, Abram,
you get back here
like I said – hands and pockets full –
and not a morsel in your mouth!”

He’s behind the old black walnut,
goldenrod and asters all around,
flaming sumac down the orchard lane.

From up here I can see
the pockets of his brown overalls
bulge with apples,
and two more – red and yellow –
under one arm.
Looks like he’s gobbling a Lodi –
skin like sunshine, flesh soft as butter,
big and round as a baby’s head.

Downstairs it’s almost supper time –
cool maple shadows drift through
the open window, down my written page.
Abram’s twelve but older than,
and, even hidden there behind the tree,
he’s in a beam of light.

But I am Mary Margaret,
Mamma’s true and only daughter, fifteen –
so I know (that’s right) I know.

by Richard TenEyck
(after the painting “Back from the Orchard” by Eastman Johnson)

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