Tuesday, August 2, 2011


A Leaky Bucket

Wanted to paint some cardboards
To make background for arty collages.
Had a bucket of redwood fence stain
On hand, about a third full.
Old paint, sitting too long in the can.
Pigments had separated into layers,
With some slimy stuff that the stirring stick
Just wouldn’t mix in.

Not worth getting out a paint brush!
Dangled a paper towel in the syrrupy mixture;
Spread the goo on the cardboard.
Colors so separated from mysterious chemicals
That the mix only stained the cardboard slightly.
And all the rest got rubbed off to keep
From wetting the cardboard to melting.
The highly diluted old-blood sheen
Was better than the cardboard suggesting,
As it had before, “I’m just cut from any old box.”

Finished the staining. Lifted the bucket,
Unsuspecting, ready to put the lid back on.
Saw a tiny pool of reddish.
But I couldn’t have run the goopy paper down there!
Lifted more. Uh oh!
The paint bucket had sprung a leak, underneath!

Thick puddle of intense redwood stain!
It filled all the circle under where the can had sat.
What a good thing the bucket hadn’t leaked
While still on its storage shelf.
Lucky the spill only marred an old workshop bench!

Set the can on paper towels, but rivulets kept on,
Quickly oozing. Not a mess I could let sit and drain!
Dashed upstairs, returned at once with roll
Of paper towels, old newspapers, and empty plastic cartons
To hold a pour of remaining paint.

Soon had the cartons filled, one deep color
And one thin stain and swirled minerals.
But couldn’t set down the bucket anywhere
Or the remaining two tablespoons would leak out
And maybe overflow the sopping paper again.

Could have just stuffed the can full
Of newspapers and paper towels to absorb the mess;
Could have just set it down on a cardboard to drip.
But I had many cardboards. (And paper towels!)
“Waste not, want not!” Why not follow an arty mood?

Pouring out the residue, a few drops at a time.
Deep intense redwood fence stain,
Swizzled here and drizzled there.
Spots and blotches, and places where I let drips run freely.
And a multitude of wadded paper towels
Blotted up the rest, until I could let go of the can at last.

Cardboards got strewn over most of the workbench space,
Left there for puddles to dry.
Straightened out the oozy paper towels,
Laying each on newspaper to absorb underside.
Even draped one heavily-saturated towel over a box, artfully.
Pages of wet paper-towels on newspapers
Spread all across the basement floor.
Uh, oh! My cat came down the stairs!
Just what I would need - cat prints all over the floor!
Quick, I chased her down and scared her enough
That she trotted back upstairs.
And I trotted up the stairs to close the door,
And down again, this time to sop the bench.

But there’d been objects lying there:
Two nails, a screw, a hook, a rubber band.
Each made a dam to back up paint deep.
A lot more paper towels went to suck the mess.
There’ll always be a redwood stain,
But thankfully, it’s only a worn old workshop bench!

After my “artwork” backgrounds dried, I saw
Opportunities for crafting, there!
Later on I fashion a tree of blue painter’s tape.
On another piece, a young friend and I
Add to a dribbled forest, new blue parts.

If I can be arty in disposing of a leaky mess,
If I can dream of unplanned craft ideas
All because of a leaky bucket of paint –
Why, just think of the God who created this earth, and me;
He has imagination and artistic ability.
I give him my leaks and stains: the fear of failing,
The bent toward discontent or over-worrying;
The wear of too much care, the weariness of humdrum life.
I’ll trust Him to make something capable,
Unique and beautiful, out of me!

“For we have this treasure in earthen vessels, that the excellency of Christ may shine through.” (II Cor 4:7 )

copyright 2011 by Marilee Miller

This post is also shared with L. L. Barkat's Seedlings in Stone
"On, In and Around Mondays"

and Laura Boggess' The Wellspring
"Playdates with God"


  1. I am so glad you are so arty :). The beauty you make often amazes! This one is no exception. Do you think of these things on your own or with the help of Ms. Miller? She is so inspiring.

    I hope you have been doing well. Summer is dripping to a slow end here. We are practically melting! NO complaints, it's all good. Just needing a little slow too...

  2. I love the idea of opportunities that can come out of our messes--kind of brings hope for many situations the world finds itself in these days!! Thanks for commenting on my blog today--glad to have found you!


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