“Painting is poetry that is seen rather than felt, and poetry is painting that is felt rather than seen.” ~Leonardo da Vinci
Last week I slipped on a pair of flip-flops and walked into the dawn. The sun was peeking through the trees, and I stood in a little patch of fescue just beyond the compost pile. The fescue; the sweet, wet compost; the dew on my toes–these things reminded me of my Grandpa Ducky, though I cannot say why. Isn’t memory an odd thing?
We wake to memories like grand epiphanies. Standing in the train station, or the grocery line, or rinsing our hair in the shower, memory happens as much to us as in us. It brings the smile hidden in the heart, the anger buried in the darker places of the soul, sometimes mourning from the place just behind the eyes. Remembrances are sometimes intentional, often not.
My Grandpa Ducky was larger than life, a Big Fish sort of a man. I remembered him last week standing in the fescue, and I wrote this poem. In full disclosure, the images in the poem are very real, but the phrasing from my grandpa is not. This poem, though, contains things he might have said, probably did say, surely must have said. I could tell you I remember them, but I don’t. Or maybe I do. Sometimes memory and imagination are twins.
Too many people are afraid of poetry these days. A colleague told me yesterday, “I don’t do poetry because I don’t understand it.” Hogwash. Today I’m painting a scene in words. Isn’t that all poetry is? I’m painting it for my colleague and the rest of you don’t-do-poetry types. Read the word painting below. Smell the boathouse. Hear the Jazz. See the sun. Meet my grandpa. He was a good man.
Remembering Sunrise (For Grandpa, Who is Gone)
This morning the sun came tromping,
heading west, the promise of gold
in its eyes, conjuring rainbows
in dewey fescue patches.
There I remembered my grandfather,
the smell of his boathouse, gasoline,
naugahyde seats, cold gin, sweat.
There I heard Miles and Johnny
improvising on the record player
powerd by fifty feet of orange
extension cord, a lifeline to the
white brick house heaving to sleep.
Evenings are for maintenance,
for going back on expectations,
but the mornings–yes–the mornings
are for golden futures,
for promises of rainbows
on every blade of grass.
These are things he said
or either might have said
in a time, in a place.
Sleep child. Hoisting me,
lying me on the boat bench.
Sleep well. There I closed my eyes
and woke to this morning.
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