Image-ine Poetry: “Bedsheet” by Lisa Hess Hesselgrave

Writing poetry from art ignites creativity and helps you become a better writer. Join Maureen Doallas in this Image-ine exercise based on “Bedsheet,” a painting by Lisa Hess Hesselgrave.



Every boy should know how
to do a veronica, fix one knee
in front of the other, and bend

the spine to sounds of Ole! Ole!,
sure two-handed maneuvering
of the makeshift cape bringing

fully imagined bull to its lancer.
A particular flick of the wrists
takes practice to pose, each pass

low to keep the beast’s head down.
Some days it’s science, some art,
bull and boy both brought to kneel.

Who protests the positioning too
soon for the kill is lost in the last
swirls of magenta. Beyond the ring

feet fly; a clean white handkerchief
waves and waves. A mother waits
to press cloth to son’s bleeding face.


Write a poem of your own based on Lisa’s image “Bedsheet” or choose a line from Maureen’s poem as a starting place. Post on your blog and link to us (we love that), or just drop your poems here in the comment box.

This is the first of a series of Image-ine posts based on Lisa Hess Hesselgrave‘s paintings.

See the first Image-ine Poetry post in this series.

See the second Image-ine Poetry post in this series.

See the third Image-ine Poetry post in this series.

See the fourth Image-ine Poetry post in this series.

Painting: “Bedsheet” (oil on canvas) by Lisa Hess Hesselgrave. Used with permission. Poem by Maureen Doallas, author of Neruda’s Memoirs: Poems.


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    • says

      How wonderful to have Lisa’s work in your personal collection, Scott. Lovely piece that inspired your poem. (Thank you for sharing it.) She’s a real find! And I thank L.L. again for introducing us virtually.

      I agree with your use of the word “magical” . For some of the paintings I selected, I’d add the words “edgy” and “dark”; that combination drew me in. Her work creeps up on the viewer, and suddenly I hear the word “Surprise!”

  1. says

    You Know This Story
    — For Janet

    In the story I tell that begins with you,
    there is a dark hallway with chairs,
    and the solid beams of flashlights,
    like brilliant roads leading
    to your laughing face.

    To the casual reader,
    dark hallways are scary,
    but then this is the flashlight’s
    adult end, with sharp edges like,

    why would I write such a thing?

    Where you are, the light is soft
    and wide, in a forest of chair legs,
    a sky of bed sheets, as far away
    as I can see from the here and now.

    What is now would have been mysterious,
    like a journey to a foreign land,
    you in the light of children,
    so far from make believe, doing work
    you would not have imagined.

    Sometimes there is a small door
    in the distance of a memory,
    a slice through the riddle of time.
    There waits a sound, a thought,
    a secret to be kept beyond reason.

    You know this story:

    Mount Airy, where the Willys stopped,
    half way to Florida; we swam
    until our teeth chattered, in the frail air,
    the lavender shoulders in the distance,
    enduring the ages of the vaulted stars;
    you must remember, the water was so warm.
    Even after we were gone, the water,
    unnoticed from the here and now,
    continues gathering the day’s warmth
    and each night holds it until morning,
    for the someday we might return.

  2. says

    There’s lovely movement of memory in this, Richard, and some wonderful lines: “a forest of chair legs / a sky of bedsheets”; “the lavender shoulders”; and, my favorite, “you in the light of children”.

    Thank you!

  3. says

    Folds Of The Soul

    No, you are never ever alone
    Even at the break of dawn
    Even when no lights are on
    Especially when you are wild at play
    With, let’s say, your imaginary vessel
    One dreamed and schemed to build
    The one in which you’ll

    Sail away, escape

    Within a land of solitary play
    Alone is always simply okay
    No one will tell you what to say
    Or how to script your wild and child-like ways

    No, you are never alone
    Even though you are a solitary soul
    Taking up all the space in a rather crowded room
    Filled with imaginings found amid the dark and gloom
    Even if you have but one stark tool with which to build
    A story

    Once upon a time the bed sheet became a sail
    And away he went to the land
    Of childhood delight
    Where a friend was found for him
    Who previously had not one

    Pulled from the folds of his very soul
    Captured on the wings of wild and wooly
    And a technicolored

    Imagination to save the day.


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