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
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
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
as if my students coaxed the
honey from the comb of clouds.