How to Paint a Picture with Vanessa in the Kitchen by Sue Stern

Push an ochre cushion

behind her white neck’s nape.

Catch her starfish hands

flung out in automatic startle.

Fold her fair gold head

close to the wheelchair tray.

Careful to avoid paper, pots of paint.

Press lined hands on shoulders

overalled in plastic, red.

Don’t let her sideways slop.

Stoop, lino-kneel,

behind the chair.

Slide right hand along her arm

and bend soft






And sing as you work:

dip, and touch, and smooth, and skim

splodge, and splat, and sweep, and spin

circle, spot, triangle, square,

azureblue eyes, glintgleam hair

smilewide cheeks, tipthrust tongue

smallshine teeth   – your picture’s done.


Puppywolf: ‘The Best of Manchester Poets’ Volune 3 published 2013