I am always looking straight ahead,
struggling with black on white.
Lockstep letters lined up by rule,
I am always drawing the straight line.
I am always looking for a plumb.
Some people are born with an artist’s eye –
celebrating the fall of light on faces
in several shades of umber.
Shadows are just shades of purple at night.
Sun is shades of yellow in the morning.
There is no only black.
There is no purely white.
The artist sees no absolute;
everything is dilutions
capturing the way light curves in arcs that blur
the ragged edge of words that wield knives
sharpened to serrate through a heart.
I am in awe
of the art of the curve,
the sideways glance,
the look away.
Mother, more than once I heard you tell me
as you reached over my shoulder
and pressed my thumb beneath yours
to push the oily paint into itself to sweep the colors across the canvas –
“There are no straight lines in nature.
There are no straight lines in nature.”
It really did take me this long
you were apologizing.
*Kristen Orlando is an English teacher and has taught in Tacoma High Schools for 18 years. She also teaches English at the Washington Women’s Correctional Center in Purdy. Kristen has been in love with words since she typed up her first neighborhood newspaper, with copious use of Ko-Rec-Type, of course, in 1970, which she then sold, for a nickel a copy, door to door. She is passionate about poetry and loves to watch her students get caught up in the magic of their own words.