Monday, June 17, 2013

He Paints




He paints.

My daughter says this
Every time I ask what
Her new boyfriend does.

Paints?
Paints what?
Paints houses?
Paints cars?

She would roll her eyes,
Bored of the conversation.

He paints pictures,
Everyday he wakes up
And goes to his studio
And paints.

What kind of Caribbean man
Paints for a living?
How can he provide for you
If you get married?
What about children?
They are not cheap
Nowadays.

The conversation would go
Downhill from here with
Both of us frustrated
And we would move on
To a topic less volatile.

He paints.

My daughter once took me
To his studio,
A messy place with
Unfinished paintings
Everywhere.

Those that were finished
Were pretty enough,
But pretty does not
Put food on the table.

In the corner of the studio
Stood something draped with
A heavy fabric. A piece
He's working on, said
My daughter,
He has yet to show her.

He paints.

The days after the visit
To his studio were spent
With me wanting to see
The shrouded painting.

Curiosity got the better
Of me and I snuck
Into the studio.

Carefully, I removed
The cloth and before me
Was my daughter,
Then I saw my grandmother,
Or was it my mother?
Or was it me?

The paint on canvas
Froze in time four women
Of one lineage, one blood,
All found in one woman.

This woman painted on canvas
Had my grandmother's resilience,
My mother's nurturing spirit,
My stubborness, but
The woman was my daughter.

My heart ached as
I saw the innocence
And hope in her eyes,
Things that I once possessed
Before life did away with them
A long time ago.

Somehow,
My daughter's boyfriend
Captured more than her likeness,
He captured her soul
And the souls of the women
Before her.

I replaced the heavy cloth
Over the painting, reluctantly,
And snuck out of the studio.

I never asked my daughter
What her new boyfriend
Did for a living,
Having accepted the truth
And seeing it from
A new perspective.

He paints.
No he does more than
Paint, he freezes people
In time, taking their
Likeness and spirit and
Trapping them on canvas.

He does not paint,
He performs miracles.

16 comments:

Buddah Moskowitz said...

Excellent and wise.

Fireblossom said...

I love this. I can't tell you how often people have regarded my passion for poetry as something akin to collecting astrolabes, or making milk jug lanterns, or something. Some quaint, useless, impractical thing that reasonable people left behind in high school English. It's dispiriting. But you've captured it, here. Every time I write, I am trying to perform a miracle.

I read about an experiment someone did, where they had a top level violinist, one who performs the most difficult pieces with the most respected orchestras for elaborate fees, stand in a corner of the subway and play. He chose pieces that very few people have the skill to play well. Hardly anyone stopped to listen. Here was a performance one would pay bookoo dollars to hear, normally, and it was free, and everyone was in too much of a hurry. The only ones who wanted to stay and listen were children. I think we have been taught, as a society, that beauty is something we don't have time for, that we don't even know that we need.

Anyway...I loved this story poem, and the way that it built, and what it had to say. it made my morning.

Robert Gibson said...

"He paints.
No he does more than
Paint, he freezes people
In time, taking their
Likeness and spirit and
Trapping them on canvas."

WOW ..... this - this is an exquisite description of good art, succinctly summarized in the last two lines...

"He does not paint,
He performs miracles."


Beautiful work, Kim!

Jim said...

Lovely, Kim. I would like to know the background for your inspiration to write this?

When people ask what my older daughter does, I always say, "She writes music." Then I'll be asked, "does it sell" and I'll answer, "she hasn't sold any." My daughter is in her early 50's.

Her husband has a job and likes her this way, he says, "That's Susie."

So I understand this poem very well, both my daughter and the your poet's friend capture souls, spirits, and essences of beings. Would that we could/would do this with our poetry.
..

hedgewitch said...

This poem too paints a picture, of how we perceive what is important in life, and how it takes something personal and meaningful to our own selves to break down preconceptions and actuate real change within us. Very well done.

grapeling said...

The economy of vision isn't measured in money - you capture that so well.

@fireblossom, that was a Washington Post experiment - google "Stop and Hear the Music" on youtube and you'll find the video.

~ M

Brian Miller said...

and while that bit of magic may not put a ton of food on the table, that he can see that much into her...that should bear some promise i would imagine...

whenspaceissilence said...

This is a unique and precious poem. It caught my attention at once and never let me down. Beautiful!

whenspaceissilence said...

This is a unique and precious poem. It caught my attention at once and never let me down. Beautiful!

Laurie Kolp said...

This really touched me.

Grace said...

I love this story and I can relate to the impracticality of arts and not earning much ~ I specially like the part of discovering the painting of her daughter and seeing the souls of the women before her ~

Claudia said...

he SEES her...i think that's the magic...she's in good hands with him...smiles

rumoursofrhyme said...

He paints for the same reason that we write; not because it pays the bills (unless you're Stephen King, Ian Rankin, JK Rowling, Wilbur Smith or Patricia Cornwell) but because we want to perform miracles; he with paint, we with words.

The trouble is, no-one can see how awful the world would be without people like us trying to awaken others to the beauty it contains, so they don't value what we do.

ayala said...

I love this...Somehow,
My daughter's boyfriend
Captured more than her likeness,
He captured her soul
And the souls of the women
Before her.... to me art is a gift and the fact that he captured her soul shows how much he loves her. Wonderful!

kelvin s.m. said...

...an artist is not an artist until one believes by heart & not by eyes... very well penned... smiles...

Kimolisa said...

Thanks everyone for your positive feedback. I actually wrote this for a regional journal and still not sure if it will be published.

Reading the comments it reminded me of an interaction Churchill had with one of his staff.

During the war, one of his staff asked if they should cut the funding for the arts and Churchill said that he could not do away with the very thing they were fighting for.

 
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