HomeSouthern VoiceFlushed Brush Strokes Where I Left Imaginary Caresses

Flushed Brush Strokes Where I Left Imaginary Caresses

by Flower Conroy


“(You) realize I wasn’t painting the physical you, but the spirit visible to me.” – Tennessee Williams


Smatter of blue—as of a pen exploded down a starched shirt–& contrail.
I measure everything—this stretch of beach, the delirious length your thigh,

the porch’s sun-baked peeling paint—by how long it takes the moon
to answer me. When I glimpse you stepping from the shower or combing

your hair from your face it is as if I’ve looked into a fire’s iris. I am seared.
So what I’m blinded by your colors, so what I’m dumbstruck at your neck,

the shells around your neck, your toes with their little pubes of hair. Can’t
I love as foolishly as I want? The water hushes along the shore, no end

to its whisperings. Open your mouth. Taste this—doesn’t this fruit taste
of sunshine’s brilliance silvering the waves, like a bell cutting the air, isn’t

it upon your tongue, what lava dreams? Reduced to inkblot, to dark pool,
can’t I worship – if I want to worship—a shadow below the green surface?

Serve—if I wish to serve—a rag bright as an apple?
Paint you into a storm of moths if I want you–


This poem won first place in Tennessee Williams’ Key West Exhibit‘s Poetry Contest. Poets were invited to submit a 30-line or less poem about Tennessee Williams as a painter. Flower Conroy received $200 and read her poem at a March 26 reception at the Tennessee Williams Center at 513 Truman Ave. in Key West, Florida. Read the second-place poem here

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