Self-Portrait as the Landscape Painter in Italy by Virginia Barrett

after Jean-Baptiste- Camille Corot

Overwhelmed at first by the light, I
return to these places again and

again, discovering the nuances of
color on the rocks, the trees, the land

—variations of aspect depending on
the time of day. I write home to my

mother: “all I really want to do in life,
is paint landscapes.” I adore all my

views, I fall into the terrain’s vast
temple: rivers, hills, sky. I rise at

dawn, find vague forms behind a great
white veil: I paint! I paint! Everything

smells sweet until the sun begins to
sear the earth and I see too much. Only

the intangible is splendid—but what is
devotion if not a burning for the divine?

Virginia Barrett’s work has most recently appeared in Poetry of Resistance: A Multicultural Anthology in Response to Arizona SB 1070 (University of Arizona Press), Midnight Circus, The Fem, Belle Reve, and Apple Valley Review. She is the editor of two anthologies of contemporary San Francisco poets including OCCUPY SF—poems from the movement. She is the recipient of a 2017 writer’s residency grant from the Helene Wurlitzer Foundation.