Shishir 2019 Issue, Poems -Paula Bonnell



The Sculptor Returns from India and Begins to Paint

By Paula Bonnell

(This Poem is nominated for Pushcart 2020)


Into a dawn of mist, exhalations, sacred lowing
I awaken, abraded to smoothness.


River pebble, American, tumbling –
I come to mud, babble, spice, heat, pain.


I am alone; I am crowded;
I touch the shoulder
as mine is touched –
like a line of elephants,


The only certainty

is filial. With the knowledge
of the alluvial clay


I have made myself
by the subtractive process.
What I spare emerges.


This line of figures –
I among them –
proceeds. A child leads
the blind man.


I reach
for paint and take
a brilliant yellow.
It burgeons, eliding all


it reveals: fiery, certain,
saffron-veiled heat –


knowledge too clear and murky to explain.




Based in US, Paula Bonnell began writing poems at fifteen, and continued while a student, during her first career in financial services, then law school, and her practice of law in Boston for over thirty years. When Mark Jarman selected her manuscript of Airs & Voices for a Ciardi Prize (BkMk Press 2008), she discontinued the practice of law. Her poems have appeared in APR, The Women’s Review of Books, and dozens more, and in Message, her first collection, and two chapbooks, Before the Alphabet, a story in free verse of a child’s kindergarten year, and tales retold.


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