There was the slide projector
ticking through the ribs of Christ,
his loincloth slipping.
Ancient frescoes cracking
like the plaster in the vaulted rooms
where we learned
to draw from life.
Still life with glass of water,
the distorted surfaces of bottles,
empty-eyed cow skulls
and baskets of ripe fruit.
Her lip like a piece of fruit.
There was Picasso’s blue period:
somber urchins and a man bent
over his mute guitar.
Women with silvery flesh
reclined in thigh-high stockings.
Charcoal disintegrated in our hands.
There were empty pockets, car alarms,
shattered glass in the road, stoops
sinking into weeds we climbed
to garrets of obscurity.
There was van Gogh’s bandaged ear.
The crusty palette knife, the halo
of the clamp light. We learned hunger,
the haggard face in the mirror—self-portrait as an artist.
Art Academy was first published in A Clean, Well-Lighted Place online in November 2014.