Congratulations on your purchase
of the Bob Ross Joy of Painting,
Volume 31. For $17.95 you’ll learn
how to fulfill your creative potential
through Bob’s patented Wet on Wet®
method, in which the world
is rewritten with a swept wrist
before it has had a chance to set.
Standing alone in the black, a blank
canvas before him, Bob conjures
for you a mountain first, then
mist and moss beneath the cliffs.
Watch as Bob indicates the sky. The sky
could only ever be represented
with Prussian Blue, the color-fast,
non-toxic pigment used extensively
in the dyeing of uniforms pressed
to the bodies of young European
men marching side by side to war.
The sky will appear less militant
when mixed with a bit of white. Where
did Bob learn to paint such skies?
Ten years in Alaska. My favorite
Uncle asked me if I wanted to go there –
Uncle Sam, croons Bob. He said if you
********don’t go you’re going to jail.
That is how Uncle Sam asks you.
Ask Bob to show you that bit with
the fan brush again, how an entire lake –
the depth of which suggested
by shadow – can be achieved
by applying the hand’s tremor to paint.
There could be some fish down there,
or else a body swallowed up as if
it never existed and no one missed it.
The surface of the lake is just that calm.
Bob likes to finish off with some Titanium
White where the sun glints
off the surface. Encouraged by Bob’s smile,
certain you’ve impressed him with your application
of his favorite pigments, you step
back to admire the brilliance of the white
against the blue. This is the white
released by an Atom Bomb; Bob will
attest to that. It eclipses the trees,
but no matter. There are no mistakes, only
happy accidents. You’ll add another tree, then
another to fill in the blown-out center.
You won’t stop painting until you have an army of trees.
Emily Saland received her MFA from George Mason University, where she was the Heritage Writing Fellow and Editor of Phoebe: A Journal of Literature and Art. Her poems have appeared in DIAGRAM, The Cincinnati Review, Smartish Pace, The Seneca Review, Radar Online, and elsewhere. She works and teaches at Marist College, in Poughkeepsie, NY.