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.
for my reading tonight at the Wescott Community Center