The Muralist

Eileen Malone
He explains how a small mural is an object, a large one, a place
hates how he canít remember the name of the ship that brought him here

recalls how that morning, his mother, thick ankles in black socks
saw blood in the breakfast eggs, raged, then whimpered resignation

when they came for the men and the boys, she packed a small bag
knotted a few coins in a dirty handkerchief at the train station
passed him egg hardboiled in vinegar, unborn chick contained in its shell
go to freedom, return when it is safe, I love you

at his feet, almost empty cans of paint, hunks of stale garlic bread, olive pits
lay about jars of turpentine, rags of underwear, empty bottles of red wine

he rehearses each brush stroke in the air before applying camouflage
to ideas of mothers ravaged on dirt street ruts for hiding little boys

a spread-eagled ladder on wrinkled, ripped drop-cloths adjusts under pressure
balances itself, holds egg-shell tenderly the old artist who paints murals
of meadows where lambs and kids frolic, and mothers hold on, hold on
tight, donít let go, hold their little boys to them,

he paints everlastings on walls of inner city factories and warehouses
old-world black-eyes of young women that peer out from shadows
of sheep and goat, maternal eyes loving him, receiving him, as he returns. †

Eileen Malone's poetry has been published in over 500 literary journals and anthologies, a significant amount of which have earned awards, i.e., three Pushcart nominations. Her award winning collection Letters with Taloned Claws was published by Poets Corner Press (Sacramento) and her book I Should Have Given Them Water was published by Ragged Sky Press (Princeton). She founded and currently directs the Soul-Making Keats Literary Competition.

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