“Hope” is the thing with feathers – (314) by Emily Dickinson

“Hope” is the thing with feathers-

that perches in the soul-

and sings the tune without the words-

and never stops- at all-

… (to read the entire poem, click on the title.)

Endicott Street, Worcester, Massachusetts, Triple Decker Houses

What is hope if not the belief that we will endure, despite all hardships? My maternal grandmother Rebecca, who was born and raised in Worcester, Massachusetts, died seven years before my birth. According to my mother, she fell in love with my grandfather and married him at seventeen. She dared to step into married life and out of a family that had struggled with poverty and loss. These past few weeks I have been thinking about her a lot, about how her life was cut short and yet how much hope has lived on through her children, her grandchildren, and her great-grandchildren.

In this photograph I can sense my grandmother’s joy. Her optimism is palpable. I imagine she is feeling hopeful for her outing that evening, smiling to her date–perhaps my grandfather?–and also feeling excited for her future. She is wearing her 1920’s stylish flapper attire. Perhaps it is a March evening with the the sun still high casting long tree shadows on the picket fencing and triple deckers behind her.

I have been painting from this photograph, or rather from a color photocopy of the photo. As I gaze deeply at her image, I connect with my grandmother’s spirit, with the hope and joy she has passed along. I honor her sense of beauty, style, and that magnificent smile.

The painting I am working on is a translation of the seen and unseen. Emily Dickinson used words to express her innermost thoughts. I use images. How can we make visible the invisible?

painting in process, March 23, 2021, Robin Brooks, Topsham, Maine