you’ve just hung your vibrant
dripping orchid that you’ve dedicated
to your mother
who passed not so long ago.
It hangs on wire I’d given you.
My drawing skills are beginner, you say,
and I won’t learn anything
at the intermediate watercolor workshop.
And I take a deep breath and
hold back the anger sour in my gut.
With one comment you dismiss
all that I’m worked for
over the last ten years–
ten years of painting on and off
and drawing for even longer.
I am not a beginner.
My paintings hang colorful and
bright on the other side of the room,
and I’d written on one (finished that afternoon):
“I’m learning to be brave.”
These hands, dry from scrubbing paint stains,
to swim in deep paper oceans
under a bleeding sun,
that too much water crumples the paper,
that scotch tape is not painter’s tape,
that sometimes done is better than good,
and a good drawing is essential.
I don’t know everything,
but I know more than I did ten years ago
when I had no money or knowledge
about paint or canvases.
Instead I remember at age 16
making my own canvas with glue, printer paper,
cardboard, and tears.
Here I painted lilac sunrises of better days.
This is my growth.
This is my intermediate.
Do you think I’m some beginner
who’s lost her way,
who’s aiming for things
higher than her reach?
Do you want to guide
me to the right path?
Why does your path
happens be your sister’s
400 dollar watercolor workshop
instead of the cheaper
100-200 dollar weekend one
that I signed up for?
This is where I could tell you that
I look all of the skill around and me,
all the art prints in stores,
and think, Yes, I can do that.
Yes, my paintings
hang on the wall next to yours.
And I’m not afraid to take them
down and start again.
This is what I’m thinking
and can’t tell you.
So, instead I smile and tell you,
l consider myself intermediate.