The Dark Canvas

— Millicent Kellogg

The Flemish painters covered their
canvas with black paint and after
chose the colors to create portraits
of splendid subjects. Let us, then, start

In the center begin with a slash of
blue for the brilliant eyes, and a
sweep of golden gray for the hair; so
the face of my friend is suggested . . .

Sprays of red across the black for the
rich, ready laugh erupting on cue, always
sounding in the right places—add a jagged
green streak for the sharp retort.

For the willingness to go anywhere
in the world do arrows of brilliant yellow.
Select gracious mauve circles for the genial
invitations to her home and family.

Puffy white daubs for arduous sheep
soapings and blow drying for the show,
an act she never imagined she would do,
but did with glee—more red sprays, please.

Black dots identify her sentience
in perceiving infectious coordinates.
What color can be used to
portray an epidemiologist?

Brown dots for Itty Bitty Brown Jobs—
the tiny birds she fed and sat with, gossiping
They could see it coming before we did.
They sat silently on the boughs that morning

when grey invaded the original canvas—
smothering the tints of love and life, turning it
to black again, though leaving to the very last
the memory of red sprays laughing.

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