roped pathway through grasses in Prince Edward Island

Marilyn stretched canvas, stapled, primed
and sanded, primed again, the gesso as white
as an absence of thought. She dug paint tubes
from a hat box on the table. Her hand played
hard fast curve. invective. laughter. glove box flask, passed.
trunk pops. dig out jack.

over brushes splayed in jars. Easel unfolded, unsteady,
ready for seascape: expanse of dune and surf,
phthalocyanine span of cloudless sky.
She knifed yellow ochre into spills
Mary spreads picnic tarp. gravel. sand. Eddie grabs jacket, pockets
flask, keeps walking. hours

of white, burnt umber; spread acrylic into hillocks
of tawny sand, into banks and knolls
and shoals of sand, long grasses feather-dusting
the foreground.
overcast. waits hands through hair grass, waits knees
on dash. the raucous mocking of seagulls. drizzle.

Crimson stripes stacked on orange, pink: folded chairs, or beach
umbrellas. Ghost crabs pale as pentimenti; salt spray, shells.
Impasto frothing canvas like frosting on cake. Then
cerulean, turquoise, ultramarine–wave
spit. bunched in front seat strips blouse, skirt. struggles with lug
nuts, bruising palms of her hands.

on wave of blue and green. Sun recalling coins
on an upturned hand. Quick flicks of her wrist
and two seagulls drifted
rain-wet swimsuit. hair gummed to face. waxed paper ham
salad. hot chagrin. salt. regret.

“Of all lies, art is the least untrue.”  –Gustave Flaubert

EDITOR’S NOTE: This poem was selected from entries submitted to our Creative Challenge Series #2: Word Salad, which required that three sets of given words must be included. Read other Creative Challenge winners. To find out how to participate, go to Creative Challenges.