For the great plateful of blue water was before her. . . .
                                   -Virginia Woolf

Immersing rough paper in a bath of clear water
until it turned limp as the host upon the tongue,

she stapled the fluid sheet to a wooden frame,
where it lay, a body without a soul, in her studio

all through the night.  Owlish and darkly clerical,
the transfiguring hours at dawn revealed a surface

so hard, so bonelike, that her hand trembled until
she laid the brush down.  And fled what dry order

commanded for the chaos of the sea, rushing over
smooth sands pleached with saltwater and debris.

Doubt lay everywhere scattered in shells and weeds.
She, too, avoiding troughs, her hair a saffron flame

until, wind blasting vision, she turned into a wave.
Bones on fire, at last she felt how she would paint.

JANICE MILLER POTTER is the author of Psalms in Time (Finishing Line Press, 2008).  She was the 2005 winner of The Sara Henderson Hay Prize for Poetry, awarded by The Pittsburgh Quarterly. Her poems also have appeared in Connecticut Review, Words & Images, The Worcester Review, The Sow's Ear Poetry Review, Blue Collar Review, and other magazines.