Plein Air by Cathleen Cohen

Plein Air

I hover in the folds,
uncap paints, brush
swirls of membranous time.

Losses get caught
in the net, hard little seeds.

Last month four of my loved ones died.
Few want to hear
so I stand at corners and paint.

People don’t mind
painters at easels, almost
part of the landscape ourselves.
Shadows sweep across lawns.

A man in a red mask
approaches with his son, also masked.
They stand at safe distance and don’t

ask questions.
Soon they move off, bumping shoulders.

I’m not spying, really,
just sketching with brushstrokes and line,
just trying to piece the landscape together.


Previously appeared in Cagibi


Cathleen Cohen was the 2019 Poet Laureate of Montgomery County, PA. A painter and teacher, she founded the We the Poets program at ArtWell, an arts education non-profit in Philadelphia ( Her poems appear in Apiary, Baltimore Review, Cagibi, East Coast Ink, 6ix, North of Oxford, Passager, Philadelphia Stories, Rockvale Review, Rogue Agent, Camera Obscura (Moonstone Press, 2017) and Etching the Ghost (Atmosphere Press, forthcoming 2021). She received the Interfaith Relations Award from the Montgomery County PA Human Rights Commission and the Public Service Award from National Association of Poetry Therapy. Her artwork is on view at Cerulean Arts Gallery (

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