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Barbara Novack


They slash the canvas with red;
they outline the soldiers they were
with lines more sure in retrospect.
They paint scenes they remember, but
not the ones that recur
in the dreams they don’t talk about.
They fill in the colors,
try to exorcise the pain
without the words that they can’t say anyway.
They can’t paint the cold-sweat nights,
the quick startle terror.
They choose the colors
only they understand.


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