How to Color a Mandala – a poem by Sara Letourneau

How to Color a Mandala

Whoever said
that coloring is only for children?
When you open the book to the next empty mandala,
you may think that you’re looking at
a ring of exquisite geometry, or that you must
pick precisely the right colored pencil to start with.
If you’re not careful, the beginning
of the process may paralyze you:
thirty-something colors, just as many areas to fill,
the accuracy with which your final product should resemble
a sun, a flower, any round object that is real.
But in this moment, should is better off erased.
So banish your mind from the table
and let that quiet, confident voice speak instead.
Let it tell you the name of the first color,
the second color, and every one thereafter.
Think of this mandala as your version
of clay on a potter’s wheel, something you can mold
with your hands and instincts.
Let the core be silver or chartreuse.
Let the outermost whorls be vermillion flames
streaked with gold, or ocean waves of navy
capped with turquoise.
Create the rules as you create—
or make none at all—and allow yourself
to stray outside the lines now and then.
Breathe as patiently as the way in which
you move each utensil.
Be as lavender, sienna, or ultramarine as you wish.
Inhale the sacred smell of your paints or crayons,
and know you are illustrating the circle of life,
the most ancient circle of all.
When you’re done, tap the shoulder
of your seven-year-old self and show them
your masterpiece, then tell your adult friends
that whoever said that coloring is only for children
should try it for themselves.


Sara Letourneau is a poet, freelance book editor, and writing coach. Her poems are forthcoming in or have appeared in Constellations, Mass Poetry’s Poem of the Moment, Boston Small Press and Poetry Scene, The Aurorean, and Soul-Lit, among others. You can learn more about working with Sara at and read more of her poetry at


  1. Billie Wade says:

    Sara, this poem is wonderful. As you wrote, there is a lot going on. The letting, or at least briefly suspending, the overstressed adult to let the child play, again. The freedom of creating without judgment. I smiled and laughed as I followed on your coloring adventure. A delightful work, indeed,


Leave a Comment

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s