There’s a “relaxed center” in Pam Burr Smith’s poem, in which opposites briefly find a kind of stasis. The painting is both seen and imagined. It is both distant and close, tilting and balanced. The poem’s ending suggests that moment when we let go of telling our stories and let the wind take them, that moment of completion before it is time to pick up and move on, when we experience both repose and impermanence.

Pam Burr Smith, has published short stories, essays, articles and poems in many journals and anthologies, including The Georgia Review and Kansas Quarterly. She is the author of two poetry books Heaven Jumping Woman and Near Stars, and a poetry chapbook, She Speaks, and one book on Narrative Therapy, Living Conversations She lives in Brunswick, Maine.

Betsy Sholl, MAJ poetry editor.


A Painting Just Behind My Eyelids


I live these days with a painting

just behind my eyelids.


It’s a lot like a Milton Avery landscape

except the chrome green of the field is darker

than Avery would have used. But I chose this color,

green with rocket fuel just below the surface.


A small patch of milky ochre, a color

Avery would have picked, sleeps in the relaxed center

looking half a light year away and close as your arm.


Tan meadows oddly shaped, balanced

and tipping, tilt toward each other and rest supine,

reposing in languid, impermanent ways


like picnickers on a wide blanket in June

after their stories have merged with the wind

but before anyone is ready to pack up and go.


poetry smith pam Tilted Trees Restless Skypam smithMG 1792 copy

Pam Burr Smith, Tilted Trees Restless Sky.


Image at top: Pam Burr Smith, Sunny Beach Day.