JUST A CLOSER LOOK
precious Jesus, hear my
daily walking close
Inches from the paint, Rosie Lee Tompkins
is the medallion on canvas, central image
of the quilt from God surrounding
her, come from the hand of the painter,
Rex DeLoney. Light-filled in half-square
scarf. Yellow bandana. And if you look
closer, over-the tops of cut cloth. Look
how radiance emerges! Colors of peaches
from forehead to cheeks. Eyes
deepest blue pools filling, emptying,
Coltrane-like. Bluest brows. Full lips,
unmistakably Rosie’s, wizened-red--
but right here, on her right side--
(the viewer’s left), shadowed
cheekbone to chin, her face, dark,
breaks through squares of material
blocks of red and orange,
epiphany portrait come from
the artist-hand, illumination.
Just above this square
the cross in red and white stripes.
A printed sign at the crossroad
embellished in white jewel-like
lights, A Prayer For Magic.
This is the essence of prayer.
And now, vertical on the cross,
coming up from below, strips
of printed text, scissored, glued:
“In the still-unfolding field of African-
American quilt making, she has no
of imagination and freedom.”
Below the words, still on the cross,
over red paint, two red buttons.
Returning one’s eyes to hers
on the painting, some from Rex,
some from Rosie, marked, unmarked,
her voice a hymn on the wall,
God permitted me to see this color.
A white thread from Rosie’s needle
falls out of the painting from the bottom.
Rex has glued it, border-breaking--
and this thread remains, subversive,
straightening, permitting eyes to follow.
17 June 2021