Afternoon Art Class

The sallow look of women
struggling over their paintings
in a long afternoon art class

thickens the taste of my latte.
We get so bourgeois with age,
our faces drooping with candor

and our untutored skills flashing
in distance we’ll never conquer.
Yesterday’s tropical rain brought

clouds of October insects
with their bloodthirst perfected.
I stayed home all day, whispering

to the cats, who believe nothing
except what their senses confirm.
Watching them bristle about the house

reminded me how slightly I knew you
before we burst like grenades.
Many of those women slopping

watercolor over their smocks
as I watch through the art center’s
picture windows also

have exploded parts of their lives
to make room for other, less
congruent parts. They’d paint

those bursts of heat and light but
the results would look childish—
too much red and orange, too little

of the brown or beige of flesh.
Easier to depict landscapes
devoid of human wreckage,

maybe a cow or deer or fox
in the middle ground, no detail,
just a few swabs of color.

My latte sinks to the bottom
of me, swirling down the drain,
and yesterday’s puddles smile

with all the colors those women
would need to depict themselves
and each other, if only they’d dare.

William Doreski lives in Peterborough, New Hampshire (USA). He has published three critical studies. His poetry has appeared in many journals. He has taught writing and literature at Emerson, Goddard, Boston University, and Keene State College. His new poetry collection is A Black River, A Dark Fall (Splash of Red, 2018).

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