“In the Courts of Love” (portrait of a marriage; for Jaki Shelton Green and Hajj Abdul Lateef)
Pencil, pastel, and watercolor
April 2020
Although I’d known Jaki Shelton Green’s (North Carolina’s current and much beloved Poet Laureate) poetry for years, I never met her or her husband, Abdul, in person until they agreed to come to a small gathering at my old house, after a reading in Ye Olde Hillsborough. She’d had a bad slip/fall on those old steps on her way up to the house, which genuinely concerned me and some others. She, predictably enough, waved the accident away as “nothing”, and folks settled into the gathering. I couldn’t help noticing, however, that the handsome man with her (I didn’t know, at that time, that she even HAD a husband) watched her, as she spoke with everyone there in her usual/comfortable way,…. like a hawk…….but without being possessive or territorial….just utterly protective…..and I thought (as I’ve rarely done over the past thirty and more years of looking at other folks’ marriages) “Oh…..now THAT is one really good man”. And so he is, as I’ve increasingly and gratefully learned. At this point (having just spent nine hours finishing this small portrait) I think it would be presumptuous of me to further describe or narrate, so to speak, either Jaki or Abdul. I do admire their marriage/partnership….and my remarks end with that. I will, however, add that (1) I did intend, in painting this portrait, which is based on a photograph of them taken by a friend of theirs, to put Miss Jaki in a J.Singer Sargent painting insofar as I could, and……..(2) this portrait will, of course, be a gift to their jolly selves…..and (3) here’s a song (I happen to love it, for my own reasons) for them…..go to: