No Artist Paints Only One Portrait

by Brad Aaron Modlin

What I mean is every shower
on this street has someone
singing or crying in it.
If I have to choose, let it be
Marvin Gaye’s “God Is Love.”
More than shampoo, I need
those tambourines. Did you
know that 99.99% of the world’s
people are not you? It’s true
for me too, true for the bald
woman in the nearby red house
who has her own problems
and favorite type of pickles.
When she feels lonely
about herself, does she feel it
differently than I do?
Avelina, who lives in another
country, says she dreamt
she and her husband
were allowed to touch
the closed border because
they told the guards
we were like family.
The guards let us meet
at a wide line painted
through the grass,
and we reached our arms
to each other like peacocks
spreading feathers. Her kids
were there too, calling me Uncle
until it became my only name.
And to the side, a bald woman
Avelina had never seen
in waking life. She lay
on the ground watercoloring.
The two guards unwrapped
chewing gum and checked
their watches. One
had a first date to get to.
The other, a funeral.
Both at 6pm.

Share via
Copy link
Powered by Social Snap