_ _ My place is on the washable marmalade urethane divan with her, urine-runny pants-wet artist, yelling run-on at her son:
_ My art, my art, I have to keep my art._
_ _ She clasps the art of Chartres honored with purple Sharpie, leaf-edge green-goldleaf, orange-yellow. Without caution she’s the shout, My art, my art, don’t ask me not to use my mind—
_ _ the way Stafford, mild as he presented, ended his poem with a girl breaking “into jagged purple glass.”
_ _ Her hand hurts; in her grip, a sheaf of rose windows from art class: Don’t ask me not to use my mind—that feels like taking away my art.
_ _ Ornate tracery of psychotherapy. Grandeur fragile and exercised, dyed as light seeps through.
_ _ Rose window, Thou art sick.
_ _ But aqua, keep running and you won’t get caught. Right away.
_ _ A nurse arrives to steal a vial of blood: which would you rather keep—your art’s carnelian or your blood’s ruby?
Sandra McPherson is the author of twelve poetry collections, most recently Quicksilver, Cougars, and Quartz (Salmon Poetry, due 2020). Her latest poems have appeared or are forthcoming in Ploughshares, AGNI, Whitefish, Red Wheelbarrow, Poetry, and elsewhere. Founder and former editor of Swan Scythe Press, she taught poetry for twenty-three years at the University of California at Davis and for four years at the Iowa Writers’ Workshop. Her collection of sixty-seven African-American improvisational quilts is housed at the UC Davis Design Department. (updated 4/2020)