The painting by William Trost Richards, Corn Shocks and Pumpkins, is by far my favorite from the collection of artwork Mr. Hertzlieb showed us. The image of the fading sun, neutral oranges, browns, and light golds, are exactly what I conjure when I imagine the Midwest. They also depict my favorite season—Autumn—which I find absolutely breathtaking in Central Indiana.
I have to admit that I’m not too keen on the Dune collection, and all subsequent artwork portraying the Indiana Dunes National State Park. A collection of sand, reeds, various other fauna, a large body of water—these don’t entice me to reminisce about the Midwest. Turkey Run State Park , Shades State Park—these are the State Parks that I think of when contemplating the Midwest.
In the Fall of 2007 I took a poetry class and for one assignment we had to compose a poem in response to a piece of artwork displayed in the Brauer Museum. It just so happens that William Trost Richards Corn Shocks and Pumpkins was on display. Following is a poem depicting one reaction I had to the painting. I’m also proud to say that it was published in the Spring 2008 edition of the The Lighter.
Harvest Moon Hide and Seek
Reaction to William Trost Richard’s Corn Shocks and Pumpkins
By Carolyn J. Simpson
The scent of growing pumpkins
tickles your nostrils as dry leaves
chase one another across dying grass.
The burning sun slowly fades
into the warm glow of Harvest Moon
as, with one eye you spy on other players,
peeking through dried stacks of corn shock,
smug, knowing the seeker will never
find you. An outside concert greets your ears
as crickets tune stringed instruments, frogs
low tympanic bellow keeps the rhythm,
rustling leaves chime in the breeze,
accompanied by chorus of hooting owl.
A few fireflies blink in the darkness,
like tiny airplanes flashing in the atmosphere,
specks of neon green, yellow. A daddy long legs
calmly climbs steep incline of corn shock,
Godzilla attacking Manhattan.
Shivering, you slide hands into sweatshirt
sleeves, like a turtle ducking into its shell.
Attempting to warm chilled body, you hop
from to left, right, shoulders hunched,
teeth chattering, dancing to symphony,
like characters in A Charlie Brown Christmas.
Blowing warm air onto numb, pink fingers,
and growing chillier by the second,
you shout, “Here I am!” pumping stiff
arms, clomping cement feet to brightly
lit barn. Wrapping shaking hands
around steaming Styrofoam cup of hot
chocolate, you relish as warmth tingles
throughout your body.