Existe-t-il une peinture juive? —Fritz Vanderpyl

Some learned the palette is the devils platter,
the brush a crucifix: by law, no icons
no graven images made unto thee.

Yet Soutine dries creeds in the Paris sun,
his strokes prayers for pardon. Others are freer.
A mystery. I find no common style,

no ism, as in penstand, nest for thought.
Marc Chagalls villages, Soutines dead turkeys,
Sonia Delauneys rings, make an odd stew.

In Kislings painting, Kiki of Montparnasse
lies on flowered silk. Nearby, a window opens
on more windows. Air, light. Still I say

could Michelangelo have carved La Pieta
without belief, his trust only in stone?
Even Rouault, godless, hunted by God,

painted Christs head slashed with lines. How faith crushes
and builds. But not them. Torn up from dry soil,
replanted, pruned back, they blossom again

like horse chestnuts under a new god.
Their only faith, if one can call it that,
lurks in this days sunlit buildings, leaves

that still sparkle with raindrops, and brushstrokes
that catch the glimmer. Some fled pogroms.
But take Modigliani, from Livorno,

whose women, swans, gaze with clouded pupils.
The painters stare. Doorlocks pried open,
they blink under puff-clouded skies,

talk at Le Dome until the paint runs free,
then, each to his easel, gather beliefs
like lilies that die as the canvas blooms.