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It was fine until the shuttles from HQ
Stopped coming and my art supplies ran low
A painter has to paint so I had to get creative
Had to source locally
Yes, lots of things here are toxic
We live in a bubble where we
Grow our own food and
Make textiles from the leavings
But surely a little paint
Wouldn’t hurt anyone?
Blue from a local shell
Ground fine outside so the dust
Wouldn’t contaminate the HVAC
Red from the clay under the northern
Mountain and yellow from the rocks
Littering the face
Stabilized with local water
I prefer oils to watercolors but needs must
The new colors were beautiful
And if I’d had a sealant, some clear, thick resin
Perhaps, it would have been all right

I found out how long it would take
For the local offerings to kill us
When I hung the first painting
In Camden’s quarters—a surprise birthday gift
I meant to make him happy
And he was for a day or two
Until the illness set in
Nobody looked twice at my painting
Nobody thought to question why
I’d changed techniques
He died, slowly and horribly and
I never said a word
I just took the painting from his quarters and
Destroyed it once I got outside
I don’t paint anymore
Okay? I don't paint anymore
I’m sorry and I miss him and I miss
Art too and someday, if a ship ever
Comes back, I’m going to go home and the
First thing I’ll paint will be his portrait
Made with oils, not water—what color is regret?



Gerri Leen is a Rhysling-nominated poet from Northern Virginia. She has poetry published in Eye to the Telescope, Star*Line, Dreams & Nightmares, Songs of Eretz, Polu Texni, NewMyths.com, Neo-Opsis and others. She also writes fiction in many genres (as Gerri Leen for speculative and mainstream, and Kim Strattford for romance), and is a member of HWA and SFWA. Visit gerrileen.com to see what else she’s been up to.
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