James Kemp Untitled, 1963oil on canvas Gift of Mr. and Mrs. John H. Moore, London, Ontario, through the Ontario Heritage Foundation, 1978
Foxfire in the marsh leads viewers further
within, deep into mires of mixed illusion, to
the texture of coats applied layer upon layer.
Fairy lights float through bright tangle, tempting
me to follow those flames through impossible koan:
“What is your original face before you were born?”
Faux-fire, fool’s ghost among darkening shades—
how I wish I could meet you on that other side
beyond saturated green in gathering tints of paint —
Turner’s red daub lighting your masterful flourish.
Penn Kemp is a poet and playwright. She served as London’s inaugural Poet Laureate from 2010 to 2013, and was Writer-in-Residence at Western University from 2009 to 2010. Kemp has long been a keen participant, and activist, in Canada’s cultural life. She has published more than 30 books of poetry, prose, and drama.