Wednesday Poem


“Pentimenti of an earlier position of the
arm may be seen.”—Frick Museum

It's not simply
that the top image
wears off or
goes translucent;
things underneath
come back up
having enjoyed the

advantages of rest.
That's the hardest
part to bear, how
the decided–against
fattens one layer down,
free of the tests
applied to final choices.
In this painting,
for instance, see how
a third arm––
long ago repented
by the artist­­––
is revealed,
working a flap
into the surface
through which
who knows what
exiled cat or
extra child
might steal.

by Kay Ryan
from The Best Of It
Grove Press, 2010