Below – Petr Patkhimovitch: “February Sparkles”
This Date in Art History: Born 1 February 1868 – Stefan Luchian, a Romanian painter and illustrator.
Below – “Interior”; “Safta the Flower Girl”; “The Laundress”; “Hair Washing”; “Portrait of a Woman”; “The River Meadow at Poduri.”
Art for February – Richard Szkutnik: “February 4.2017”
This Date in Literary History: Died 1 February 2012 – Wislawa Szymborska, a Polish poet, translator, and recipient of the 1996 Nobel Prize in Literature.
“On Death, without Exaggeration”
by Wislawa Szymborska
It can’t take a joke,
find a star, make a bridge.
It knows nothing about weaving, mining, farming,
building ships, or baking cakes.
In our planning for tomorrow,
it has the final word,
which is always beside the point.
It can’t even get the things done
that are part of its trade:
dig a grave,
make a coffin,
clean up after itself.
Preoccupied with killing,
it does the job awkwardly,
without system or skill.
As though each of us were its first kill.
Oh, it has its triumphs,
but look at its countless defeats,
and repeat attempts!
Sometimes it isn’t strong enough
to swat a fly from the air.
Many are the caterpillars
that have outcrawled it.
All those bulbs, pods,
tentacles, fins, tracheae,
nuptial plumage, and winter fur
show that it has fallen behind
with its halfhearted work.
Ill will won’t help
and even our lending a hand with wars and coups d’etat
is so far not enough.
Hearts beat inside eggs.
Babies’ skeletons grow.
Seeds, hard at work, sprout their first tiny pair of leaves
and sometimes even tall trees fall away.
Whoever claims that it’s omnipotent
is himself living proof
that it’s not.
There’s no life
that couldn’t be immortal
if only for a moment.
always arrives by that very moment too late.
In vain it tugs at the knob
of the invisible door.
As far as you’ve come
can’t be undone.
Art for February – rhea cutillo: “North of February”
by Galway Kinnell
Wait, for now.
Distrust everything, if you have to.
But trust the hours. Haven’t they
carried you everywhere, up to now?
Personal events will become interesting again.
Hair will become interesting.
Pain will become interesting.
Buds that open out of season will become lovely again.
Second-hand gloves will become lovely again,
their memories are what give them
the need for other hands. And the desolation
of lovers is the same: that enormous emptiness
carved out of such tiny beings as we are
asks to be filled; the need
for the new love is faithfulness to the old.
Don’t go too early.
You’re tired. But everyone’s tired.
But no one is tired enough.
Only wait a while and listen.
Music of hair,
Music of pain,
music of looms weaving all our loves again.
Be there to hear it, it will be the only time,
most of all to hear,
the flute of your whole existence,
rehearsed by the sorrows, play itself into total exhaustion.
Below – Dasha Pears: “Imagine Music – Flute” (photograph)
Art for February – Anne Baudequin: “February 25, country lane, morning light”
Below – “Street Scene”; “Franklin Park Boston”; “Skipping Rope”; “The Breezy Common”; “Lady on the Boulevard/The Green Cape”; “Marine Park.”
“Wishing and wanting
to see you,
I step on thin ice.”
Below – Eugis Eidukaitis: “Through thin ice”
Art for February – Agnieszka Kujawa-Bartosik: “February”
Below – “Blue Mountains”; “Viewing the Ships”; “The Balloon”; “Telegraph Hill”; “Central Park, New York”; “Crescent Beach.”
by Margaret Atwood
Winter. Time to eat fat
and watch hockey. In the pewter mornings, the cat,
a black fur sausage with yellow
Houdini eyes, jumps up on the bed and tries
to get onto my head. It’s his
way of telling whether or not I’m dead.
If I’m not, he wants to be scratched; if I am
He’ll think of something. He settles
on my chest, breathing his breath
of burped-up meat and musty sofas,
purring like a washboard. Some other tomcat,
not yet a capon, has been spraying our front door,
declaring war. It’s all about sex and territory,
which are what will finish us off
in the long run. Some cat owners around here
should snip a few testicles. If we wise
hominids were sensible, we’d do that too,
or eat our young, like sharks.
But it’s love that does us in. Over and over
again, ‘He shoots, he scores!’ and famine
crouches in the bedsheets, ambushing the pulsing
eiderdown, and the windchill factor hits
thirty below, and pollution pours
out of our chimneys to keep us warm.
February, month of despair,
with a skewered heart in the centre.
I think dire thoughts, and lust for French fries
with a splash of vinegar.
Cat, enough of your greedy whining
and your small pink bumhole.
Off my face! You’re the life principle,
more or less, so get going
on a little optimism around here.
Get rid of death. Celebrate increase. Make it be spring.
Below – Sandy Dooley: “Thinking of Spring Colour”
Musings in February: Shirley Jackson
“February, when the days of winter seem endless and no amount of wistful recollecting can bring back any air of summer.”
Below – Roman Bashta: “Fading Day”
Art for February – Elisheva Nesis: “The Angel of February”
This Date in Art History: Died 1 February 1944 – Piet Mondrian, a
Below – “Willow Grove: Impression of Light and Shadow”; “Evening; Red Tree”; “Spring Sun: Castle Ruin: Brederode”; “Tableau I”; “Composition II in Red, Blue, and Yellow”; “Victory Boogie Woogie.”
Art for February – Igor Nekraha: “February Day”
A Poem for February
I stood beside a hill
Smooth with new-laid snow,
A single star looked out
From the cold evening glow.
There was no other creature
That saw what I could see–
I stood and watched the evening star
As long as it watched me.
Below – Edward Burne-Jones: “The Evening Star”
Art for February – Leonid Soloviev: “Winter landscape. February”
A Poem for February
“February: Thinking of Flowers”
by Jane Kenyon
Now wind torments the field,
turning the white surface back
on itself, back and back on itself,
like an animal licking a wound.
Nothing but white–the air, the light;
only one brown milkweed pod
bobbing in the gully, smallest
brown boat on the immense tide.
A single green sprouting thing
would restore me. . . .
Then think of the tall delphinium,
swaying, or the bee when it comes
to the tongue of the burgundy lily.
Below – Kathryn Gabinet-Kroo: “Delphinium Rising”
Art for February – David OM: “On a Given Infinite Line”
Welcome, Wonderful February
Below – Carmen Moreno: “Blackbirds in Winter”