Small Windows / Jane Costain


poems by

Jane Costain

ISBN: 978-1-59948-687-1,  40 pages, $12

Release Date:  June 5, 2018


Jane Costain is a long-time member of the Colorado poetry group, the Gamuts. Although she has written poetry for many years, she has only recently begun to publish selected poems in journals including The MacGuffin, Third Wednesday, Front Range Review. She has a masters degree in The Creative Arts in Learning from Lesley College and taught for over thirty years in public schools. The poems in this collection reflect her special interest in the visual arts. She lives with her husband in Denver, Colorado.

I have read Jane Costain’s poems on a weekly basis for over fifteen years, and she has never ceased to amaze. An ekphrastic master, Jane draws the reader into the visual mystery before her, imagining what is hidden in the garden beyond a window or behind a curtain, then sharing what she sees. The surprising images rippling through these poems have enlarged my sense of engagement with the respective paintings. It’s a powerful double win! –Ran Huntsberry, Ph.D. author of Movin’ On: Poetics of Impermanence


The poems in Small Windows by Jane Costain offer us imaginative insights to the visual art she contemplates. As Costain says in the first poem, “At the window ledge,/the juncture of inside and outside,/we pause for reflection.” Exactly, and the ledge is no longer merely a juncture but a connection inside the reader. So clear is the poet’s language that we don’t need to see the paintings to understand the response. Indeed, her “momentary images [are]more luminous than pearls.” Karen Douglass, Poet and Novelist


With a keen eye and appreciation for beauty, Jane Costain sees in a startlingly fresh way. Stand with her as she contemplates “Olympia,” that lovely nude, and imagines Olympia wondering what we have to hide. Sit with her as she watches morning light enter the house like “a still life/slowly assembling.” And know that when you turn the last page of this treasure of a collection, the palpable grace of these poems will long linger. Vicki Mandell-King, author of Tenacity of Lace and Shrinking into Infinite Sky


after “In Praise of Dialectics,” Rene Magritte

An open window
reveals a smaller house inside.
Only the exterior, visible,
its windows closed, too far away
for us to peer through a crack
in the curtains. Perhaps,

another house is inside
that house, and then another,
smaller still…on and on
like nesting dolls, not exact
replicas, each slightly varied.

We cannot see
into that final interior
nor can we look out
through window after window.

At the window ledge,
the juncture of inside and outside,
we pause for reflection.





Blue-eyed flowers
sprawl in the sun,
ignoring the comings

and goings of bees.
A butterfly casts
its slight shadow

in soundless flight.
Mourning doves
have little to lament.

No wind disturbs
the leaves as fallen
catalpa blossoms

gather beneath
the tree, like lips
that wish to speak.




after Édouard Manet’s painting


There she is—spread out
before you, naked
but for one shoe dangling,
an orchid in her hair,
a ribbon necklace—

the white glare of all that flesh!
She stares straight at you,
a bit bored by your presence, you,
just one of many. Do you even

notice the bouquet of flowers
from some admirer offered
by the maid fully dressed, dark skin
blending into the background?

Or the small black cat?
With those wide-open eyes
what has he witnessed?
What else is there
unseen in the shadows?

You focus on the pleasure
of what lies before you—
Olympia, who unlike you,
has nothing to hide.

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