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L. Shapley Bassen


A grisaille is a painting executed entirely in shades of grey or of another neutral greyish color. Paintings executed in brown are referred to as brunaille, and paintings executed in green are called verdaille. A grisaille may be executed for its own sake, as underpainting for an oil painting, or as a model for an engraver to work from.

In the Garden of Gethsemane by Nikolay Ge

Spring has no patience with viral monochrome.
April can be cruel, filling purple azalea flowers
with sudden snow, though their color comes through.
Wind can bend the daffodils but not dim yellow.
Magnolias pink and star, and in a row five
cherry-plum trees in full bloom fill an aisle
like distanced brides in gowns and veils. Portrait
of a plague whose underpainting now in grey, brown,
or green weighs heavy, makes it hard to breathe.
I crave Fauves to heap impasto with palette knives
over grey bones with their blues, red skies, Rouault
black-lined resurrections. A mask conceals
the rainbow, gloves cover hands, color imagines us.


About the writer:
A native New Yorker now in Rhode Island, L. Shapley Bassen was the First Place winner in the 2015 Austin Chronicle Short Story Contest for “Portrait of a Giant Squid.” She is s a poetry/fiction reviewer for The Rumpus, etc., Fiction Editor at Craft Literary, a prizewinning, produced, published playwright at Concord Theatricals, a three-time indie-published author of novel/story collections, and in 2019, her poetry collection WHAT SUITS A NUDIST  was released by Clare Songbirds Publishing house.

Image: In the Garden of Gethsemane by Nikolay Ge (1831-1894). No medium specified. No date specified. Between 1869 and 1880. Public domain.

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