Fall 2011

Table of Contents - Vol. VII, No. 3


Poetry    Fiction    Translations     Reviews

Katrina K Guarascio



The Painter

You used to be a painter.
You painted portraits of wildflowers
embedded inside strands
of blonde hair as you danced
with rabbits in ripening fields.
Remaining ambivalent to skin rubbed raw,
the formation of blisters on hardened heels,
the weight strapped upon back leaving
marks against white freckled skin,
you were so careful to refuse limitations.
You want to paint yourself at sixteen,
crawling on bleeding knees
too skinned to scab,
because that’s how you still see yourself
when you close clouding eyes.
It took finely sliced transparencies
to etch out the idea
that these marks of burden were self imposed.
You sat petrified on haunches and watched
the reverberation between nightmare and wish fulfillment
leave you helpless.
The last attempt you made at reclaiming yourself
came in a self portrait:
sprawling crow’s feet and age spots,
so close to your mother’s angry mood,
you don’t recognize the expression on lips.
There is a child swallowed inside rib cage
who has been screaming for years.
And you’ve become a woman who can’t recognize
lead poisoning seeping into tongue.
You used to be a painter,
You still want to paint a portrait of death,
a portrait of desperation,
capture your howl in brush stroke and oil base,
display the hollow of your gut
in strangle sketch and charcoal dust,
portray innocence, youth,freedom
in the eyes of the girl you once believed you could be.
The paints dried,
hardening bristles to stone.
Obligations begin too early
and last past the fall of day.
Instead of placing brush to canvas
you fall asleep in work clothes,
curled on your side like a broken rabbit.


© Katrina K Guarascio


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