Composition: Mixed Media


I paint to learn what my eyes barely see,

things hidden to me: cast shadows, a latch,

my mother’s ghost floating behind the drapes.


I study the image I shot, its hues and patterns:

copper door, stained windows, the stone of walls

and sun faded stone, the blur of a doorway’s curve.

I sketch the door. I mask it. I pour

Holbein’s opera rose over phthalo blue.

My scumbling reveals the shapes.


I’m not done. The three hundred pound

cold press needs to dry. I eye it in the mirror

to see whether I like it better backwards.


Like Dodgson’s Alice, I’ve found a world.

Once I was young; I lost someone. I glaze

a veridian on top of my pain: I paint a door.


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Susan E. Gunter has published poems in various journals around the country, including Atlanta Review, Louisville Review, Semaphore, and Poet Lore. She has also published three books on the James family, including a biography of William James’s wife Alice: Alice in Jamesland. A resident of Santa Rosa, CA, she is the recording secretary for the Marin Poetry Center.

featured image by Sonja Parfitt