Piet Mondrian, Composition, 1921 (Jacques and Natasha Gelman Collection, Metropolitan Museum of Art)



In the museum she takes off running, jumps
into one of Thiebaud’s slide-down-a-waterfall
streets, vertiginous & curvy, hops
into a fancy car teetering
on the crest of a hill, careens around
telephone poles & cars & UPS trucks,
down & around the steepest hills, makes a big
swoopy swerve through Marina Green, dodges
gamboling dogs, kite-flying kids,
tattooed nannies pushing strollers,
& heads straight on toward
white sails & whitecaps stippling the water,
bridges shining—one silver, one orange—
            helps herself to sweet-potato pie
            & a pinch of lemon-yellow 7-layer cake
            & listens to Mr. Tweed-Cap-Know-It-All
            intoning about Thiebaud’s clever insertion of algebra
            & geometry into the streets, the cars, even the desserts—
            x + y, green (x), blue (y)—that building & that yield
            sign a perfect parallelogram, he says,
& she is in & out of the paintings, eating sweets,
feeling the salty, foggy air swish by as the fancy car lurches
uphill again past the chocolate factory, & she thinks
about the fat-bottomed bowls cupping a scoop
of vanilla &, oh, that hot fudge, waxy coating
on her tongue, whipped cream as white as isosceles sails
on the bay in fog-filtered Thiebaud-ish light.


Published in the April 2020 issue: View Contents

Judy Brackett was born in Nebraska, moved to California as a child, and has lived in a small town in the northern Sierra Nevada foothills for many years. Her stories and poems have appeared or are forthcoming in Cultural Weekly, Dos Passos Review, Canary, West Marin Review, The Untidy Season: An Anthology of Nebraska Women Poets (Backwaters Press), and elsewhere.

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