Painting Party at an Indian Buffet ~ poetry by Megan Denese Mealor

Painting Party at an Indian Buffet

I am scumbling a cataract waterfall with underhanded oils,
ad-libbing the lilac current and dysmorphic October Glory maple trees.
Feeling prolific and pioneering, I fashion a festooned mermaid
headlining shamrock curls, gaudy beneath the lioness sun
atop an out-of-tune libertine boulder garden.

The pedestrian instructor clears her throat stormily,
downturned eyes resentful as solar streetlamps
behind her rimless blonde tortoise frames
as she earmarks my mutinous aesthetic.

My syndicated mother towed me to this loitering class
within a strip mall Indian dive, the peppercorn air pulsating
with bouquets of cardamom, mutton, unleavened flatbread.
The curry buffet winking with fairy lights is distended
with acerbic cuisine that begets my broken heart
to broil like a battery acid drip.

My mother’s painting is, of course, timidly idealistic,
her sentimental waterfall poignant with larkish layers
of pewter, aqua, salmon, smoke, isabelline, silver bullet, bone.
Her tailored flapper bob is a last-word showstopper,
Cupid’s bow lips nuanced as a silent starlet’s enigma.

Her latest bank’s silver manager extended the skittish invite
to what he broadcast as a “Paint and Sip Party with kebabs”
after Mom dropped by in a maroon leather pencil skirt
to dramatically deposit her fourth bona fide paycheck.
She keeps insisting (with no actual probing from me),
there is nothing amorous, schmaltzy, awkwardly sanguine,
or starry-eyed about his incidental entreaty.

Yet she took three-and-a-half hours to get dolled up,
discarding four-fifths of her smug diplomatic wardrobe
before culling the evergreen cable-knit sweater
Dad ponied up two Christmas Eves ago,
the most claustrophobic jeans in her swarming closet,
ultrasuede peep toe pumps and liquid eyeshadow,
counteracted by an Ethiopian emerald lavalier
vignetted against her unearthed collarbone,
Ferrari lips contradicting peaches-and-cream.

She must have pocketed a sunup manicure
because her embittered fingernails have been forged
into temporary silk periwinkle talons which clash
with her liberal yellow platinum coiffure.

I diagnose the sidekick savor of Chasing the Dragon Hypnotic,
sardined beside Mom at a reclusive folding crafts table
within the banquet room of two-month-old Curry Kingdom.
Diamond-studded notes of pink pepper and fir balsam mist her marrow.
She must have wielded that crystal flagon wholeheartedly,
perhaps petrified of the sensual amber aura deserting her
along with her second, fifth, and eighth cherry pie cachets.

The rest of my slapdash classmates are barely propelling
their neophyte paintbrushes, far more stimulated by the
skyscraping stoneware plates stockpiled with butter chicken,
lamb vindaloo, banana fritters, samosas in mint sauce.

None of these crackerjack women are wearing
high heels or passionate perfume or carnal lipstick.
They gossip grouchily, mouths full of chickpea batter,
wiping devil-may-care hands upon whisker washed jeans.

The bank manager in a stock-tie brooch has been governing
the reverse end of the gossamer collapsible table all afternoon,
garishly coquetting a chirping twenty-year-old curvy Latina
clad in ripped overalls and a Candy Cane Tulip arm sleeve.

My mother’s animated indigo eyes never brush their way,
immersed in her invigorating canvas and bottomless blushes,
now commanding a flawless symmetry of violet and celeste
for vivifying an Indian summer evening sky ballet.

Megan Denese Mealor resides in Jacksonville, Florida. A two-time Pushcart Prize nominee, her writing has been featured in literary magazines worldwide, most recently Penumbric, Across the Margin, and Brazos River Review. Megan has authored three poetry collections: Bipolar Lexicon (Unsolicited Press, 2018); Blatherskite (Clare Songbirds, 2019); and A Mourning Dove’s Wishbone (in the works). Megan is currently toying with architectural photography, volunteering for animal shelters, and guest reading for Autumn House Press, Ember Chasm Review, and The Malahat Review. She and her husband, eight-year-old son, and three mollycoddled cats occupy a cavernous townhouse ornamented with vintage ads for Victorian inventions.