How To Paint A Marigold

The gradation from orange to yellow
has to sing out in rotational symmetry.
A golden note has to be trumpeted too.
A great master showed me once

how to place a central blue dot
and five concentric rings of orange
in an exact mix of oil and turpentine.
A sable brush, a slick river of sunshine

flicks an arc across the deep current
of tone, like a tailgate jazz trombone,
from a low warmth to consummate flame
which, half way, somehow, is gold.

And this sfumato, this tight transition
of one colour into another is to be
repeated, petal by petal, layer on
layer with drumbeat precision

and the nimble wit of a piccolo.
No wonder I stick with what I know.
I let the music of marigolds
paint the garden. I bask in the glow.

How to Paint a Marigold won second prize in the Rhyme and Reason poetry competition 2015.
The judge, Terry Jones, said of it: ‘This is a wonderful, elegant poem. I love the way the carefully managed thought process flows through the poem, binding the stanzas together. It is partly due to the careful syntax, but also to the rich patterning of assonance and alliteration. It is also due to the ingenious comparison of music to painting, which is the poem’s leitmotif. Gentle humour too – as in the lovely switch in the final stanza.’