Janelle DolRayne

Self-portrait as painter and sitter

A steel blue light flickers in a room
where I sit for myself. The painter

and sitter just got done arguing—
No, I’m the freak. The sitter positions

herself in the way we both prefer,
yet neither will say. Have you seen

the palette I’ve picked for you?
the painter continues, Eggshell slip

of a trophy wife, ghost-wolf gray,
amber preserving our mother, blue spruce.

That seems about right to me—me too.
The painter thinks of the shade

to light the cheek, asks, How’s the family?
If the answer is, Not great, we might

need more pink. We anticipate
each other’s thoughts—the painter

always interprets the sitter’s dreams.
What were the snowballs doing? If the answer

includes, Melting quickly in my hands,
the painter considers Impressionism.

When the painter is done the sitter puts
a hand on the shoulder. Did I really look like

that? The sitter tries to remember the body.
This is how you looked in the blizzard

of your dream. The sitter squints, wonders
whether we’ve painted us frozen or alive.

Janelle DolRayne is a former poetry editor of Copper Nickel and the current production editor at The Journal. She lives in Columbus, Ohio where she is getting her MFA at The Ohio State University. Her poems and essay have appeared or are forthcoming in The Laurel Review, The Indiana Review, Ninth Letter, The Collagist, Parcel, Interrupture, and the 2013 Best of the Net snthology, among others. She is the recipient of an Academy of American Poets Prize and the Vandewater Poetry Award. She is originally from Coal Creek Canyon, Colorado.