by Marilyn Zhang
Art by Catherine Hwu
Issue: Aphelion (Spring 2016)

We used to breathe wind,
the greens from the smell of fresh grass
bending with the freedom of mornings,
the browns from the layers of leaves
winding down the breeze.
We used to splash blobs of fresh paint
onto the mahogany easel,
and the canvas of the sky
wherever they happened to land.
We were our own Monets.

Now it’s you

black easel and glistening linen canvas in hand.

You’re all about the dry-scratching and detail-round brushes,

glazing and sgraffito.

Perfect dots of paint pixels

systemize the polished black shoes

and dull grey airplanes

on your six foot by six foot canvas.

We used to pluck the golds from poppies

growing on open fields
Don’t you remember?
We used to catch the swirls of whites
from ships sailing in the clouds
Don’t you remember?
And the magentas?
We tasted them on each other’s chapped lips
after rushing barefoot against the roaring wind.
We were flying, Jack.


There’s more of you now,

Oil Painting Society Grand Prize Winner

and Featured Artist of the Year.

Weeks of camera flashes and spotlights,

cherry champagne and gala exhibitions.

You’ve got dozens of flight reservations,

polished shoes for every day of the week;

an exploding calendar

you say.

And you’ve got more colors,

every shade of the rainbow,

from 000000 to ffffff.

The computer has it all.

We used to talk about the infinites
in sunshine,
the way it glows in Raindrops
and in Roses,
in our cheeks and in our laughter
and in all the paintings of Maria.
Don’t you remember,
that summer?
We were Teddy and Josephine,
chasing the hues of the wind,
and painting them in our hearts.

The LED lights

at the Fine Art Gallery

illuminate your renditions

of the New York skyscrapers—

the same lights that glow from the monitor

when you pick your color

from a hundred square boxes,

one centimeter on each side.

You even print the dizzying array

on manila stationary from the hotel,

and send them to me.

There’s the Anti-Flash White

and Black Leather Jacket,

and even B’dazzled Blue.

I see them all,

your version of infinity

that’s missing just a few shades…


Where are the colors

of wind?

of love?

of life?