IN THE PAINTER’S HOUSE by Hannah Dela Cruz Abrams

for Sully


In the painter’s house, we begin

with bourbon, our hair glued with bits of paper.


Orion hangs from every ceiling.

We bang our heads on clotheslines of drying stars.


The painter is making art from toilet paper

rolls and singing The Ways of Man. I am


smacking mosquitoes from my forehead

and announcing that in Ancient Egypt


the stars of Orion were the god Sah.

With some violence, the painter says,


Did you know I have a thing about holes. Tiny

holes. Things are not going the way we planned.


The painter’s two pigs sleep side by side

under the desk. The cat, who has walked


across the palette, snores with rainbow

feet. Upstairs the bunnies are mating.


Our ideas have run out and must be cut

with exacto knives from catalogues and taped


to our legs. The floor is littered now

with everything we hate, which is more and more,


and no one we love calls back, which is truer and truer.

Let me tell you, sometimes tiredness feels like despair,


and other times it can feel like gladdening.

In this endless night, we are bourbon-ing,


now taller than the sky, its watercolor stars,

its sheaves of gold hunters. Ink on our feet, ink in our teeth.


I once had a dream that when I wrote, my hair would grow

and grow. Two small children stood behind me


with giant scissors to chop it short

while I typed. That is was tonight feels like.


Like our hair is growing long. In the painter’s house,

we begin and stay and stay without ending.


All the animals are awake and cheering.

The painter calls, Give me an image—