Fire

paintbrushes

An after-school hour inside Ms. Taylor’s dim room;

She and I wash brushes in the large aluminum sink.

The boys in my grade go for Mrs. Rodriguez, but not me.

Ms. Taylor is plain, but she is alive, alert. She is young.

 

Her windows are plastered with perspective drawings,

construction paper, collages, still lifes, watercolors—

of faces, rooms, hands, flowers, bottles, eyes, blood.

My latest acrylic is taped to her monitor, set apart.

 

We run our hands over paint bristles and the water

turns to milk or soda or wine and slips through the drain.

She is humming a song. Her fingers work each brush over.

Reaching for the towel, our shining hands touch each other.

 

Remembering that girls like when you take interest in them,

I ask, Is it true your old studio burned to the ground?

She turns, settling back against the edge of the sink.

Teaching is my art now, she says, almost smiling.

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