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All these long years, it had been there for him –
Some patch of canvas naked as the light,
Left untouched by some curious oversight,
Or just abandoned at some patron’s whim;
And all the while he’d seen in every space –
As one might see it in a starry sky,
Or in a fire, or water rushing by –
The features of his own first angel’s face.
So when at last the master gave him leave
To finish off a corner of one scene,
The pupil had no picture to conceive;
For in that instant, wild and serene,
The angel wings in his own heart unfurled –
His soul his brush, and in his brush the world.

By Jonathan Steffen

First published in ‘Acumen’, October 1994; reprinted in ‘First Sixty: The Acumen Anthology’, 2010

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