Barbara Lydecker Crane


Dear Mum,

Imperial Nude (Paul Rosano), 1977, by Sylvia Sleigh (Wales; 1916-2010); New York, NY

Just got your letter and the clipping. I see
your local critic’s “utterly appalled”
by this, my latest painting, and you agree.
Mum, why so shocked to see a guy who’s sprawled
across a couch and happens to be nude?
Think of Goya, Rubens, Ingres, Renoir—
the Old Masters hardly thought it rude
to paint idealized, naked women. Men are
handsome individuals; God knows
I never try to paint an archetype.
I’m proud my work’s in several New York shows,
so screw the Welsh Gazette, Mum. Don’t snipe
about “appearances”—forget all that.
I pay this model, paint him, and we chat.

First published in Crane’s You Will Remember Me, a collection of 65 ekphrastic sonnets (Able Muse Press, 2023).

Barbara Lydecker Crane, a Rattle Poetry Prize finalist in 2017 and 2019, has received two Pushcart nominations and several awards for her sonnets. Her poems, sometimes light and more often serious, have appeared in Alabama Literary Review, Ekphrastic Review, First Things, Light, Measure, Montreal Review, THINK, and Writer’s Almanac, among many others, and in 10 anthologies. “Dear Mum” is from her fourth collection, You Will Remember Me, sonnets in the imagined voices of different artists through history (Able Muse Press, 2023). Barb is also an artist and lives in Massachusetts with her husband.