for Barbara Schaff


How do you paint air?

Presence that announces itself

by what it is not,


the moonlight floating

in the ocean or a hawk

tracing the currents in slow arcs?


It drapes the shoulders of a woman

bent over her garden, fills

the empty glass on the windowsill.


It announces itself on a pond

splashing its yellows and greens.

It renders tempests,


in hot indigos and purples

racing above the bay,

holds blades of light


falling like sheet metal

on the rock-studded shore.

How do you paint air?


Think of tatters of smoke hanging

over streets after a war,

the sky weeping.



Besides writing books, Marguerite Guzman Bouvard has spent her life volunteering on behalf of social justice. She has been writing to a black prisoner in Lincoln Nebraska, helping him with his poetry, and has published a chapbook of his work called Soul Songs. We need to know that our prisons are filled with mostly black and Latino prisoners, many of whom made only minor offenses. Her new poetry book is Shades of Meaning and she is working on a non-fiction book, Climate Visionaries Around the World. She will have a new poetry book coming out in 2023. Marguerite supports the Mississippi Center for Justice.


Edited for Unlikely by Jonathan Penton, Editor-in-Chief
Last revised on Monday, July 6, 2020 - 22:07