Two Women in an Unbalanced Street Scene
First, the painter wanted the church,
dome firm like a full breast nursing the clouds—
wanted that damp, pink hole in the sky,
a hint of the day, 4:20 p.m.,
being sucked into a blue twilight, early.
This center of the canvas diffuses, goes gray—
the brush pulls to the right.
Clapboards on houses north of the church
grow white and sharp, advancing.
Azaleas come out bloody and loud,
vines creep in clarity,
porches take on pierced shadows, cobwebs and
he arrives at 1210 Dean Street uninvited,
his palette stripped of decent grays.
Sunset, level in his eyes, dazzles;
he finds the women, anyway,
puts them on the right edge,
right on the edge of the wide canvas—
fills in broken fingernails, rumpled pleats,
grease spots, three hairs in a mole;
does not omit the droop of stocking,
elongated slit in earlobe, flat unshed tear.
on the edge.
There might be screams—
the painter brushes voices closed,
lips dark and hard as wormwood.
6:04, obsession spent,
he paints their feet to a rotting threshold,
turns his colors left,
tries evening storms approaching from the south.
Not showy enough—
the last-chance women, heavy in sweat,
seduce the eye like onyx
gleaming in an oblique setting.
This won't hang straight in any frame.