I Paint My House
I paint my house Botticelli, pale Naples,
cinnamon, all the spices of the islands,
the colour of Dutchmen and their sea—
sick faces, the colour of wood
where the salt seeps through it.
I paint my house curry, Indonesia.
I paint it Calvin grey
I paint my house Ireland: Kelly, Kerry, the green
they hang men for. I paint it potato,
bad soil, seaweed. I paint starvation, cholera.
I paint it Ellis, paint it Grosse Isle. I paint it alcohol
and stone, tumbled.
I paint my house Iowa: black floor,
green corn. I paint it America,
fireworks and smog, I paint it
industry. I paint it Whitman,
paint it slavery. I paint it blood.
I paint my house history. I paint it
Olduvai. I paint it time's slow
engineering. I paint it Rosalind Franklin.
I paint it Molly Brown, the one
who lived. I paint it all
who lived. I paint it books, Rosetta.
I paint it Egypt and Sumer, I paint it Inca.
I paint it night sky, which is no colour.
I paint it white, which is every colour,
which is light before the breaking,
which is Newton, which is science, snowfall,
primer, primal, paper—hope.
©2005 by Erin Noteboom
Erin Noteboom is a Canadian poet with two books, a poetry blog, and a small fistful of awards, including the CBC Canadian Literary
Prize. Paint colours in her house include Botticelli, Pale Naples, Roast Potato, and Nightmare.
Art represents a sample of Ndebele House Paintings.