Friday, November 18, 2005

A Jungle of Light

A Jungle of Light

As he is dying, my father furiously paints.

Instead of the small invisible strokes

he used earlier, precise as a photo, he splashes

light on the canvas with a wide brush,

bold and bright.

I find him at work, crouched over his easel

painting the sunroom he'd always wanted

but never had. He looks out from a jungle of light

and leaf to a succession of mountains gold and gold

in the setting sun.

Beside him is a painting of water lilies, each one

flaming green and gold, light defining

the leaves and liberating the water. He creates

the light with an absence of paint.

He tells me when he looks inside, all he sees

is darkness, and vultures, circling.

But in this painting beside him, still wet, a phoenix

circles the sun. It pulses with brilliance,

yellows, oranges, and reds.

When he can't stand any more, he sits,

and when he can't sit, he paints lying curled on his side.

His last painting is himself, ink blue, black,

purple and plum. Drenching him with light,

the sun rises inside his heart.

Mary Stebbins

for Pa


for my reading tonight at the Wescott Community Center

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