A woman in jeans and red vest kneels
on the corner of Quincy and Water. Pastels
once boxed in rainbow rows lie worn
and scattered. She sits back on her heels
to see what she can’t up close. The face
of a young woman brightens with mauve
and ivory sticks, the blouse blues and melon
greens, the ebony hair. You know the tourists
are awed by the way their mouths open,
by the almost inaudible sounds of soft Ohs,
by the raised eyebrows. The artist knows
before she begins, the face will fade, first rain
mottle the lines and spaces, colors run
at random and into each other, trickle down
drains. She works with abandon, a degree
of detachment monks would envy. All
destined to the bay and beyond to the sea.
What remains from moment to moment: desire,
the pleasure of swirls and shades, shadows
and hues, stroke on stroke to completion.
Kay Mullen is a retired teacher, school and mental health counselor. Her work has appeared in various journals, including Appalachia, Crab Creek Review, and New Works Review, as well as anthologies such as Tattoos on Cedar, Mute Note Earthward, Pontoon, Northwind, and others. She has two full-length poetry collections, Let Morning Begin (Caritas Communications, 2001) and A Long Remembering: Return to Vietnam (Foothills Publishing, 2006). In 2002, she received the William Stafford First Place Award from the Washington State Poets Association.