Kay Mullen: "Sidewalk Artist"




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.