The Artist’s Gift

It was the faces
That first made me stop
And look
And linger

Their wise wrinkles
And smiling eyes
So alive
So beautifully African

How long had I searched
For carvings such as these
That reach into my heart
And whisper to my soul?

But the gift
That I thought I had found
Was not the gift
That I left with that day

It would have been easy
To dismiss him
As just another street trader
One of life’s desperados

He had the look –
This scruffy Rastafarian
With lopsided grin –
Of the joker in the pack

But something about him
(Was it his manner?)
Drew me in closer
And made me take note

He told me his name
And oh so gently
He told me the story
Of his artist’s life

It was clear to me
That he lived only to give life
To pregnant meanings
Forever gestating in his being

He showed me his drawings
Which swirled on music
And danced with contrast
And sang in symbols

And as he decoded each sign
And unlocked each emotion
Art became transformed
Into philosophy

Even the negotiation on price
(As if aesthetics can ever be valued)
Revealed layers of sensitivity
To deeper principles

For he spoke sincerely
Of the importance of finding balance
Between giving and taking
And having and being

Under the African sun
On the city pavement that day
I felt a connection that transcended
The suit and the T-shirt

And as I said farewell
Like old friends parting
For once in my life I had the courage
To speak my truth

“The money I gave
Is merely a token of my appreciation
For these priceless expressions
Of your artistic talents”

“But more than this
You have my admiration and respect
For you have given me a much greater gift
Which is inspiration and insight”

Now whenever I look
At the wise old face
Carved in rough wood
I think of him

And I smile
And wish him every good fortune
Knowing that I am forever enriched
By the artist’s gift

Wayne Visser © 2017


Seize the Day: Favourite Inspirational Poems

This creative collection, now in its 3rd edition, brings together favourite inspirational poems by Wayne Visser. The anthology takes us on a journey through the peaks and troughs of life, celebrating the indomitable human spirit.. It includes many old favourites like “Poets Must Be” and “Chasing the Blue”, as well as brand new poems like “The Writer” and “Making Ripples”. Sages through the ages wisely say: / Carpe Diem – seize the dawning day / Oh, would that I could assuage that thirst / But the day conspires to seize me first! / With the hurry and scurry / Of home’s frantic flurry / And the hustle and bustle / Of work’s tangled tussle. Buy the paper book / Buy the e-book.