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.
This poem was nominated for a Pushcart.