All in by Sharon Tracey

by Sharon Tracey

            —Jennifer Bartlett (1991-92); oil on canvas

How do you build a painting with only
sixty minutes to live
between five and six in the evening
on a seven square-foot grid—

she’s dug a fishpond in a courtyard
fissured it in time
stocked it with cold-blooded koi
dressed in calico and banana yellow

some seem dredged in flour as if
they might be battered. They dart
and swim among the water lilies
then tip their scales and slip

under as if cold war spies.
Leaves past their prime have fallen
and float upon the placid surface
like Matisse cutouts that have died.

So much happens in a single hour
and so little—you stare
at the appearance of depth
and think of the fish, the ticking clock,
where the weeping light goes

and realize that you could just walk away
just take something and walk—


Sharon Tracey is a poet, editor, and author of the poetry collection, What I Remember Most Is Everything (ALL CAPS PUBLISHING, 2017). Her poems have appeared in Mom Egg Review, Tule Review, Common Ground Review, Light: A Journal of Photography and Poetry, Forth, Canary, Naugatuck River Review, Ekphrasis, and elsewhere. She lives in western Massachusetts. For more, please see