To Gwen, Painter of Words
Priestess, portraitess, painter of words.
You caught us in all our postures:
The costumes, cosmetics and shifting architecture of our days.
Across your unfolding canvas marched
Chocolate Mabbie & Pearl May Lee, Annie Allen & Big Bessie
Lester, Pee Wee, Satin-Legs & Alfred, the poet warrior.
All those moments of ennui, of confusion, of pain, of defiance.
The black and tan and yellow of it.
You liked the crush, the concentration of words (you said)
As painters love tempura's varied textures, watercolor's
Transparency, the opacity of oils.
And you did it.
You fixed us, at once inside and outside History.
Our images frozen in protean patterns
Forever negotiating between imagination and reality.
A lilting, luminescent, longlived legacy.
The signature, your brushwork words.