Space by Cathleen Cohen

Space

My son planes planks
then checks for splinters.
He’s building a desk with old factory salvage,
boards that once supported

machines, grime, men’s weight
for so long that now
they’re as yellow as egg yolks
flecked with red.

He used to drift through parties
when young, leave the table
to search for carved mantles,
crown moldings, curlicues and corbels.

I’d find him
stroking the grain, the artistry.
Now I bring sandwiches,
sit near the scant warmth

of his plug-in heater
and consider the view:
panorama, a mosaic
of high-rises and rooftops,

windows like tiles reflecting
soft movements of humans.
I used to have
my own studio space.

I’d paint abstracts
and hold day long conversations
with crimson and ultra blue,
make marks with charcoal sticks,

catch lyrics. To paint portraits,
I invite souls in
to sit near the windows
so they could feel a little freer.

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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 (www.theartwell.org). Her poems appear in journals such as Apiary, Baltimore Review, Cagibi, East Coast Ink, 6ix, North of Oxford, One Art, Passager, Philadelphia Stories, Rockvale Review and Rogue Agent. Camera Obscura (chapbook, Moonstone Press), appeared in 2017 and Etching the Ghost (Atmosphere Press), is forthcoming in 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 paintings are on view at Cerulean Arts Gallery (www.ceruleanarts.com).

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.

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Previously appeared in Cagibi

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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 (www.theartwell.org). 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 (www.ceruleanarts.com).