My father painted
western landscapes and bluebonnets
in a manner that can be described as “primitive.”
He painted with his heart to stay sane
in the never-sane world
of the mens’ tubercular sanitarium.
From what little I actually know of him
he was a man of conscience
and love for his family.
He may have been other things too,
but I can’t possibly know for certain
except from the stories I’ve been told.
In these stories he was almost a saint.
When I was twelve he was sent home to die,
although no one told me.
I remember him lying in bed in our front room.
I touched his puffy leg, leaving a white dimple.
He said we would make plans for time together,
just the family,
when he was better.
One anonymous night
I stayed with my grandmother
for no reason I could figure out,
although I really didn’t give it much thought.
In the darkest part of that night
my mother woke me
to tell me he was dead.
I don’t remember my reaction,
but I don’t think I cried.
Men didn’t do that, you see.
I do remember eating cake after his funeral
at what I recently heard called
a “funeral party.”
I have a way of forgetting painful times.
For a long time after his death
my memory is a blank.
Now, I am a painter.
I don’t paint his landscapes or bluebonnets,
but, like my father,
it brings a breath of sanity to my world,
completing the long-delayed circle of his life.