Life-drawing class

1 August 2015

The book said if you wanted a cow
you drew the cow.
And if you wanted the milk
you drew the milk.
And if you didn’t want that snowflake anymore
you simply joined the points together
to make a spider’s web.

On the course, the advanced students would draw the sun
then smudge the edge of the circle
to warm up the room.
The same technique made a static star shoot,
then you could wish on it – for anything.
I sensed the power of what I was learning.

There was one rule: you couldn’t erase.
If you didn’t like something you drew,
if the elbows of that tree were stabbing birds,
you had to keep drawing.
‘Draw again. Draw better’ was the brand’s byline.

But if an online class has a back corner, then I was in it.
I was flailing in a whirlpool of my own sketching.
I had to draw my mum to get me out.

As she spoke, full of concern,
I drew some coins: soothing, repetitious rounds.
Mum recited my student debt (my age plus three zeros),
and lack of pitched roof, weatherproof shoes, dinner invites.

Boy, those coins were really mounting up!
I ran their coolness through my fingers.
Mum tested the metal with her teeth.

Every pencil in my pocket – HB, 2B –
well I threw them away like crutches.
Then I filled my pockets with my new wealth.

When I drew the river and walked into it,
those coins worked better than stones.

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