Collective Unrest

 

Slow Information

December 28, 2018

*Previously published in Alligator Jupiter, Fall 2002, and Poets Against the War, March 2003

You decide to paint
something, a portrait, say,
of Hitler reclining.
Grove of red roses. Blue
sky padded with glowing
white cumuli. Your
daughter’s doll between his
fingers. Next to him, a sweating
can of Diet Coke.

You first apply the under-
painting, gunmetal
gray. Then, geometric sketches
using slender barrels of coal.
Layers of acrylic follow:
violet under flesh, carmine
edged in evergreen.
You let the painting dry
in July sun fixed to an easel

while the breeze insinuates
Sousa. Parades consume Main
Street, where your daughter
marches, baton bursting
with patriotic streamers. Imagine
the way sweat curls the hair
at her neck, her brow.
You store the painting
in the attic. Before she can see.

Before anyone can see.
This is the nature of your art—
to hide now what will reveal itself
later. Dread will pass after you
have gone, after she has gone,
the kind that reminds us today
he will never be gone.
One day, soldiers will seize
remnants of lost freedom found

in your attic. They will puzzle
over what to do with
something already buried.
You already know how
your painting will open
time like a window then.
Through it, you already hear
someone shouting orders,
a soda cracking open.

 

Tamara Sellman’s creative work has been published widely and internationally. Her work has appeared, or is forthcoming, in Something On Our Minds (Nov 2017), The Nervous Breakdown (Spring 2018), and Halfway Down the Stairs (Sept 2018). Her work has been nominated twice for the Pushcart Prize. Sellman works as a board-certified sleep health educator, healthcare journalist, and MS advocate/columnist.

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