Brown Study


None of these rooms the same, some
smell of loam, some taste sullenly
of oatmeal. In some the walls are thin:
cardboard, chipboard, sepia selfies.

Many are A-frames, their ridgepoles
the spines of books set down
or knuckles braided in prayer, and a few
are all window, igloos built of amber cubes.

. . .

All the same, these studies are stirred
from other colors. The leaf turns
brown because it has been green
and gold and red. The child’s palette

always ends a paper plate of mud,
but for a moment, as the paints unpuddle
and kaleidoscope, the pigments hold,
and there must be some lesson in that.

Jane Zwart

Jane Zwart teaches at Calvin University, where she also co-directs the Calvin Center for Faith & Writing. Her poems have appeared in Poetry, Ploughshares, Threepenny Review, The Poetry Review (UK), and TriQuarterly, as well as other journals and magazines.