I have edited this poem again. Its earlier versions can be found on this blog, dated September 25th 2005, and published in The Windsor Review (Volume 38.2, 2005). I think I have tightened up the verse by removing some explanatory statements. The line lengths had to be changed for this posting.
Elizabeth Paints a Second Self-Portrait
In heaven, paint is free.
God encourages everyone to take art class.
Creative expression should not be underestimated
in its ability to heal old wounds.
He used this therapy himself.
No longer on the path of destruction— floods, fires,
the usual antics of a wrathful god— he now teaches art.
Soothes the spirit with yellow ochre and burnt umber.
Like children, they paint with their fingers,
smear the palest blue into the whitest paper.
This is the sky.
Elizabeth does not participate.
She has other things to work on.
She looks to the clouds, imagines the sun, paints
her face for the second time. There is no hint
of darkness, no deep shading to the side of her nose.
This time, she paints herself smiling,
though no one will see it.