Painting Between Shores

tree circles 3

By Stephen Linsteadt

The end of my brush traces old scars
below the edges of bones

(Oh I want to see them:
7 stitches in the forehead for calling me a girl.
You ran when I picked up a rock then turned around in time to catch it in the skull.
I bruised my brain once when I rode into a truck.)

Half in, half out
these scars breathe a confession

when I stand in a certain light

sifting through erasures
to find my exiled slave.

(Like the blood my neighbor’s wife wiped away
after she sat on my lap at a dinner party

wanting to catch her husband’s attention.)

Now I make the canvas bleed—

the swamp cooler runs out of water again and I’m down to my shorts.

Fluorescent tubes spoil the backlighting.

Sand pounds on the door.

At my feet a turpentine soaked rag,
a sail,
a loadstone,
the only way back to the surface.

I almost forgot her nakedness
transposed to the canvas—

her breasts hoping for re-election
wave to the crowd.

but the model, unaware,
dresses then leaves.

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