he stopped painting after we were born

To the faithful who keep relentlessly reminding me (bless your hearts) that I haven’t been posting very much lately: I know, I know. I haven’t had a lot of time to write or paint lately. Truth is, I’ve taken a temporary full-time job to help pay some unexpected vet and plumbing bills (the cat is sick, the basement bathroom a disaster). And also to fund my next round of travel — I’ve got flight plans for Nashville, New Zealand, gay Paris and Tuscany, for starters, and hey, a peripatetic girl’s gotta do what a peripatetic girl’s gotta do. If that means translating tractor manuals into low gaelic for a few shillings, so be it. Because this too, like Dubya’s Reign of Error, shall pass. There’s a City of Light at the end of the tunnel — eventually. ‘Til then, I’ll blog what I can, when I can.
In the meantime, here’s a piece I wrote in 1999 in a SAGA workshop, two months after my father’s death. I don’t know that it’s finished, but I wanted to honour the artist he put on hold and never returned to.

It also fits with this week’s Totally Optional Prompt: “Lost Stuff.”

he stopped painting after we were born

his pictures still hang on the walls
the closets still smell of his clothes
the big desk in the spare bedroom still buried under papers, books,
bird lists, photographs …
the daily journal entries of his life

his paintings are in the cellar
leaning in stacks against musty walls
covered in cobwebs and dust, mouse droppings
the colours dying

he stopped painting after we were born
deciding a young wife and three small children
left little time for meandering through the woods
toting easel and oils
counting thrushes and sketching landscapes

the last time he picked up a brush
was to paint a portrait of me.
i remember sitting in a big armchair
trying to keep still
while he transformed an ordinary piece of board
into a remarkable likeness of the six-year-old girl i was back then.

that portrait is gone now
lost somewhere between the great lakes and the prairies
misplaced? or left behind, or just plain vanished…
and how could i have been so careless?

when i come again to my father’s house
someone else’s pictures will hang on the walls
someone else’s grocery list will be tacked to the fridge
someone else’s dishes will clutter the sink
someone else will have filled the birdfeeder
patched the boathouse, tied up the dock
swept the leaves off the deck
someone else’s clothes will fill the closets

someone else’s paintings will gather dust in the cellar

0 Replies to “he stopped painting after we were born”

  1. Wonderful tribute to a father/artist. Poignant and profound.

  2. A little sad, but a great tribute.

  3. A great acknowledgement of sacrifice.

  4. poignant and sad, good luck with the translations…

  5. This touched my heart. Poignantly beautiful…

    bonded forever

  6. this was lovely.. how is it that we lose or misplace or forget about the things that will really mean something someday?? i wonder where all those little important pieces of life end up…..

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