I see my aunt in your eyes, that
startling Swedish blue, sometimes ice,
always a cigarette emphasizing her words.
She studied psychology, painted dead leaves gold,
and knew so much about all of us.
Sometimes only her words
held me together.
Long before women were artists, she painted
self-portraits with staring eyes.
Hemmingway and Picasso were her heroes,
though neither of them treated women well.
She was of the generation of women
who survived World War II,
Pearl Harbor, Hiroshima, Hitler, and Mussolini.
She was the second daughter,
dutiful, steady, married often and not well,
yet painting those marvelous bold abstracts
well into her eighties,
each line an argument for being
I still see.