The Egret in Me

Hot Toddy by Mary Kay KingCommUnity of Minds — Judy Wilken writes: Now, he will stand out, Mary thought to herself while watching the red canvas glisten in the sunlight. She filled her favorite round brush with her white and began creating the boundary of the egret’s body, fleshing out a large oval shape at first. “I have to get the nose to tail,” she said as she pulled some of the wet white pigment up, up, and up, at least a full three feet, on the canvas creating a long vertical line for his neck. “Any water snake could slip down that neck,” she told the egret. Perfect, she thought. More pigment went on top of the wet line and she saw his head, his whole face in her mind for the first time. Nose to tail, she reminded herself. A wingspan of five feet lifting only two pounds? She marveled. “I’ve got boxes of chocolates heavier than you,” she chuckled to herself. When she looked again she noticed the feathers on the right side of his body were quiet. She began brushing in his purplish-blue shadow on his quiet side with one of her Brights. It extended from his nose and shadowed him all the way down to his tail. The smallest round brush she loaded with black pigment. Two black eyes she painted, one on each side of his head. Then, the “straight as an arrow” bill in yellow. She painted his spindly legs a mud-black. “My god, they’re like black, hinged toothpicks,” she thought. They were as narrow as the blades of the narrowleaf cattails just twenty five feet away. After the last few strokes of yellow for his “get a load of those feet”, she looked over at the egret and said, “You look like you’re lost on a wind farm.”

Mary picked up her long handled raggedy brush planning on feathering out a distinct look for the egret’s main gliding and soaring feathers with its bristles. She knew that the tips of the bristles could do all the work. They are perfect for pulling the pigment out from his chest with just a few strokes, she thought. “That five foot wingspan has got to be something of an event,” she told the egret. She began building his “gliding” feathers slowly, long strokes piled on top of one another, slightly angled toward his foie gras. By making each stroke a little shorter than the previous one, she could fluff up his wing space until you were sure that that wingspan was very possible. “Such a perfect wind. You’re crazy with feathers. I can’t believe it.” Mary told the egret.

As she was gently brushing in some grey splashes giving the wings some depth, Mary leaned away from the canvas and got caught in a quick gust of wind causing her to shift her weight once again from one mud boot to the other. She steadied her body with legs a few feet apart while she studied the egret’s “canvas” head. Instantly, she decided to add what was glaringly missing. “A spot of red in that eye. Of course. How could I not see that?” She took her round sable brush, just barely touched it to a tiny smudge of red pigment on her palette then leaned toward the egret’s left “canvas” eye. With a steady hand she lowered the brush into the black eye and watched a red spot spread into it. “Red blood in there. Life in there,” she whispered to herself. Suddenly, she felt the hairs of her brush move, pulse just once while inside the black. She stared at the “canvas” eye, keeping the bristles in the red spot. She felt another pulse run up her brush and into her arm. She kept the bristles in the black and slightly leaned away from the canvas, somewhat startled by what she just felt. What did I feel? she asked herself. “Oneness,” she said outloud. (06/03/2013)

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