She Named This Drawing for Me by Cathleen Cohen

She Named This Drawing for Me

For Tilda

She drove a block to my backyard, having lost
her zest for weighty easels and oils.
Chemo drained her

so she brought a thin pad and array
of micron pens, said she was reclaiming
her old practice of making artists’ books,

which her daughter glued together
with archival paper. Pale as paper,
she perched on a bench

and mapped the landscape:
overgrown hedge and trellis,
empty of clematis.

Such elegant blue lines.
She wasn’t sure if her strength
would last all afternoon.

I asked how she knew
where to start her compositions.
Plucking green from her bouquet of pens,

she said… one spot
that catches the eye,
that’s pleasing.

This thermos on the picnic table,
this bright woven carry-all
shouting to be orange.

That day, she stayed
only an hour and now
I own this drawing,

filled with grace and elegant lines,
with everything we said
and didn’t say.


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, North of Oxford, Passager, One Art Poetry, Philadelphia Stories, Rockvale Review, Rogue Agent, Camera Obscura (Moonstone Press, 2017) and Etching the Ghost (Atmosphere Press, 2021).

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