For Alexandra Sheldon, art instructor at Snowfarm



           Art Workshop

I speak of value, hues, 

the richness of the color black, 

which is the key, 

the recipe for subtlety; 

 raw umber,  some sienna,

voila an eggplant purple glistens in the cup,

holds the deep dark forest;  stir bone black

 for entrance to the thicket, the woods of two a.m. 


Six portraits of inscrutable.

Their eyes watery blues and

milky browns do not blink

as they reach for white;

they  want the trail leading out

of the places I'm still seeking. 


Alice crouches in her rest home dreams;

her dead husband--"my light my love" floats

like the mist across the Snowfarm meadow,

a ghost holding out his hand to pull her 

into that dark dream but Alice says no and 

makes some tiny lines of cream,

each as  perfect as her point.


It rained for two days

and they grumble, hunker down into 

their diving bells, unplug their hearing aids,

sink slowly underwater. 

Helen whispers --Oh

Helen, what are you thinking?

I try to pull the line, bring them 

to the surface with directions:

Take your Bristol paper:

What what did she say?  Flo asks herself.


For them I mix the colors of the rain drenched day 

falling into night. There is such beauty in the shades of grey, I say.

They nod, then mix the brightest hues

of yellow,


The crowns of their heads.

silver ovals of intent

until I hear:

"Oh dear, I've ruined it." Somehow a line

went awry, outside her idea of order.

Who am I to speak of

salvaging?  The sweet ruin of her

face is what I want to trace and follow

to the pool of sorrow.

An army of paint tubes guard her space,

pencils sharpened, rulers ready.


As the peepers start their chorus

I step out to see the violet glaze ,

 a wash upon the rounded shoulders

of the old Green Mountains.


I call my husband, pace the path around the pond

as he tells me of our son, whose girl has started to  break

his heart, phrase by phrase, slow motion demolition

of what they've been for months;  I say to tell him not to hold on

so hard:

Inside I  see Helen,  

a statue stopped before whatever

she has seen.

 A blue of gasp, 

A black of solitude.


That evening in my dream

my husband's arms, branches, 

my fingers twigs, my hair abandoned nests,

the smell of wet earth 

mixed with tears, of titian buff. 


At dawn the room's ablaze with

iridescent gold,

as if my students coaxed the 

honey from the comb of clouds.