Tuesday, August 14, 2007

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.


When he looks inside, he says, all is darkness

and vultures circling.  But beside him,

still wet, a painted phoenix

circles the sun.  It pulses with brilliance,

yellows, oranges, and reds.


Crouched over his easel, he paints

the sunroom he'd always wanted

but never had.  Looks out from a jungle of light

and leaf to a succession of mountains gold on gold

on gold in the setting sun.


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

and when he can't sit, he paints lying

curled on his side.  Water lilies, in another new painting,

each flame white, green and gold.  Light defines

the leaves and liberates the water. 


He paints a self-portrait, a bit of ink blue,

black, purple and plum.  Drenching him with light,

a sun rises inside his heart.  An absence of paint

creates the light.  And the paint is absent;

it's missing, more and more.








Mary Stebbins

for Joseph Ciaranello (my father)

Sent to Turtleink Tuesday, August 14, 2007

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1 comment:

Marie said...

I'm so glad you visited me because I wouldn't have wanted to miss this very brilliant poem. It explains how an artist has to paint because he "must," and that when the body starts to limit him, he does something different. I LOVED this line: Light defines
the leaves and liberates the water.

thanks for your gift of words today