she made paintings, water on color and the pictures sang and the people praised and then she married my grand-dad, a police officer who was never home, and she had two kids, yvonne and peter and her easel became a thing to prop up the laundry, and the colors began to bleed

she’d sew and smoke her cigarettes, the long white ones that looked like thin legs, and talk of becoming an artist in paris while my mum cried into her pillow for the girls that had called her ‘elephant’ and peter became a man who would never have children

and i wonder if my nanny ever looked in their faces, ever saw the art in the lines of their jaw, in the swing of their arms, ever saw that these, these were her greatest creations but she never hugged and she never praised and the whirr of the sewing machine stitched together time

and in the end it was my mum who found her in the bathtub where her colors bled razor-red
my mum, who’d taken her in when nanny had gotten too bent and yellow from her long white cigarettes, my mum, who’d spent her life trying to believe she was worth more than her mother’s dreams

and i pick up my boy tender like a sapling green and he bends and twists and i hold him so gentle should he break, and i whisper, “you are my greatest creation” as my canvas fills with color

(shared with one stop poetry)