A Seated Figure

by Katharyn Howd Machan

When she turns seventy, Fox vows,
she’ll take up painting, make a place
in a room of sudden sun and shadow
for easel, oils, thinner, rags,
where her eyes can open and close like the mouth
of a skillful mermaid diving. Her father
taught her when she was young, colors
she later turned into poems, same
as the way he wrote his scores and played
piano for life. Seascapes, coves,
calm sky above small boats and dolphins,
always his refuge from the city
where he spent too many years. Fox
wonders already what she will paint first,
with what kind of brush, what canvas. Maybe
a man with his back held straight, hands
curved to touch black and white in waves
of music the world may or may not hear,
his fingers streaked with the greens and blues
he shared with his last daughter.

KATHARYN HOWD MACHAN, Professor of Writing at Ithaca College, holds degrees from the College of Saint Rose, the University of Iowa, and Northwestern University. Her poems have appeared in numerous magazines; in anthologies and textbooks such as The Bedford Introduction to Literature, The Best American Nonrequired Reading 2013, Poetry: An Introduction, Early Ripening: American Women’s Poetry Now, Sound and Sense, Writing Poems, Literature: Reading and Writing the Human Experience; and in 32 collections, most recently Wild Grapes: Poems of Fox (Finishing Line Press, 2014), H (Gribble Press, 2014—national winner) and When She’s Asked to Think of Colors (Palettes & Quills Press, 2009—national winner). Former director of the national Feminist Women’s Writing Workshops, Inc., in 2012 she edited Adrienne Rich: A Tribute Anthology (Split Oak Press).