By Mary Paulson
For cheekbone, upper bow of lip—
use thick, muscular oil paints
and for her thoughts,
descending shades pink—
Mexican tile, tea rose, eggplant—
Apply the paint straight from the tube
without medium or thinner
and use a stiff bristle brush.
Paint her lying uncovered in a circle
of late afternoon sun, supine
on an unmade bed.
Paint her dark eyes
watching the fan spin its slow circles
on the vaulted ceiling
of a large, windowed room.
Add a wood frame bed, side table,
stool, and dresser—all surfaces cluttered
with miscellanea—jewelry and empty jewelry boxes,
loose papers, coins, notebooks, pens,
small islands of discarded clothing dotting the floor.
Paint her rolling on to her side—scar
on the back of her shoulder shaped
like a slim silver fish. Make her
long hair heavy, Turkish-coffee dark,
her fingernails short and nude.
Paint her to be everything you wish
you could have been—
tragic and beautiful, adored
and admired, all movement, so wonderfully alive.
Use extreme, saturated color for your rage,
for middle-age, brown spots, loose
skin, promises mangled and left in dust;
for the bit lip, blood taste of a held back cry;
for the desperation to be still lovelier, more
poignant, better than you turned out to be.
Paint the window open.
Use a fine, Kolinsky sable brush.