Melanie Norman

Smudge Painting

An oil pastel glides softly

leaving charcoal grey smears across papers

and something of its churning gloom

reminds me of

the twirling smoke of a smudge stick

drifting through the air and fading

away from the sparkling orange embers

and I blend

my blots of ash with fingers

long since stained brown from multicolored oils

remembering grandmother with her russet skin

arms flowing

sinuous smoke trailing after like a salmon through a stream of whirling silver

prayers falling from her lips

warbling joyfully and strong

eddying with smoky wisps gracefully


Melanie Norman is in the process of earning her BA in English with a minor in anthropology from SUNY Brockport. She’s in the process of publishing her first novel, and was also the recipient of the Mary Louise White Award from the University of SUNY Fredonia in early 2019 for both poetry and short fiction.