The Icon Painter’s Palette
The thing is, I like my colors pure.
so I can paint each detail just so,
the gold and reds and blues bright,
cutting through the clutter of the world we are in,
a messy place that has no use for purity
of line and color, no use for clarity.
Mushiness is safer, less intimidating.
You are less likely to fail
when colors blend one into the other.
and the artist is stuck making sense of it all
with too many choices, trapped by other people’s colors
into being less, and more than I crave,
than I need for my fragile sanity and soul.
But colors meld. That is the way of things.
Few things are pure. You know this from your own life,
a seesaw of humanness, of navigating between strength and weakness,
a palette impure, still determined to seek
when nothing is.
About this poem
The picture was taken at the Russian Icon Museum in Clinton, Massachusetts. It is an actual icon painter’s palette.
I get simpler as I get older, and handle mixed messages poorly. I struggle with them, tap dancing on seesaws. And yet we live in a world driven by mixed messages wherever we turn.
And so it goes, to quote Vonnegut from Slaughterhouse Five.