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Canvas

June 24, 2020

I stretch myself over the frame pulled taut
Skin’s creases smoothed so you can paint me
You lay out the brushes with care
Bristles clean and dry
The first brush its head cut sharp to detail the subtle wrinkles around my eyes
The second wide to fill my laughing smile
The third rough to capture a storm swelling behind me over the sea
And one more a piercing point to drop a tear that belies my melancholy

You step back scanning me before preparing your pallet
What shade of Caucasian to choose for my sun aged skin?
How much grey will you need to sneak silver threads into my thick brown hair?
How should you dress me what textures will you drape?
Am I alone on a trail or seething in a concert crowd?
How will you capture the chaotic cacophony swirling in my mind with only strokes of oil?
And how can you reflect everything I’ve seen into the detail of my eyes and are they wide open alert unable to find sleep or quivering and fighting exhaustion or are they shut tight and twitching in rem-triggered dreams or are they still serene like death?

I think you should start with my memories
So many to choose from you can’t possibly paint them all
Lest the layers grow so deep that the paint slides from me dripping forgotten onto the floor
Perhaps start with my memories of running through a New England park pulling a kite its fluttering tail flying up into the crisp fall breeze the kritch kritch sound of leaves beneath my feet
Perhaps start with melancholy the bullies fear that started in 6th grade and lingered relentless until my scrawny frame sprouted 6 feet tall in high school
Perhaps start with sound the music from my parents’ practicing while I lie beneath the Steinway floating on waves of notes as father’s fingers race the keys while mother’s oboe pierces the chords
Or perhaps you start with near silence when I escape the frenetic digital pulse and head onto a trail stepping in rhythm until hours later I lie back eyes closed to let my ears explore the forest depths

And when you are done and the paint is drying its pungent odor slowly fading and imperceptible until the last molecule of scent escapes
And when you walk away your brushes cleaned and neatly packed your tubes of paint capped and stored
Will you remember me? Will you remember each brush stroke and shade of oil?
I hope you choose to paint me with my eyes wide open so I can see your expression when you apply the final stroke
Will you be relieved to finish me to escape this dreary task or will you wish to paint until the pallet runs dry so we can share this moment a little longer?

One Comment leave one →
  1. June 24, 2020 11:14 am

    Very beautiful, James, and many reminiscences for me!

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