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Heather Brown Barrett

Finger Painting 

My son considers his painted palms in our kitchen, wonderstruck 

at this new activity; one hand yellow, the other blue, 

his first finger painting on the wide paper in front of him.

Big blue whirls meet sunshine yellow, smears of green 

where the colors overlap. An ocean churning. He is not afraid 

of water. During baths he dips his face in it and comes up 

laughing, sometimes sniffs it up his nose, and I tell him 

we can’t breathe under water. Except we can— we cut our gills 

like teeth, on daily experience. Eyes wide open, gasping for insight. 

Science says we started as fish, gill slits already in place. 

I don’t know if God has gills, but I do know water 

is life; how we move through it, breathing in the deep 

weight of love, or newness. A churning ocean in our chests. 

My son waves his masterpiece back and forth, opens his mouth 

and coughs out a laugh. A vague red line appears on his neck. 

I run my thumb over it and tell him it’s time for your bath.

About the Poet

Heather Brown Barrett is a poet in southeastern Virginia. She mothers her young son and contemplates life, the universe, and everything with her writer husband, Bradley Barrett. Her poetry has appeared in The Ekphrastic Review, Yellow Arrow Journal, Black Bough Poetry, OyeDrum Magazine, AvantAppal(achia), and elsewhere.

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