An old woman I love
sits with her arms
full of paintings she
made long ago,
made with the same
beautiful, bony hands that
hold them now (though
they were younger then).
With tears in her eyes,
she turns to my sister and says,
“I can’t believe I thought these were bad.”
(It’s as though she’s never seen
her art before, not really).
She calls this stack her
In it, one little girl sits and
wonders at a watercolored world,
where blues and reds and pinks
appear to call to her from the void.
In it, another little girl sits and
stares at who-knows-what
from warm in the arms of her father.
“This was meant to be a present,” the artist says,
“But I felt it was never done.”
It’s named “Safe Place” (in progress).
How strange it must be to grow old and then
to take inventory of what you’ve created.
One by one, she passes paintings
to her granddaughter,
who wonders at this watercolored world; this
all-but-forgotten stack of awe and attention,
of hope and admiration,
of too-wet rippled centers and
creases in the corners,
and of chroma and practice and time spent trying,
and of beauty and of love.
Of “Safe Place” (in progress).
To me now, she says
“I wish I could start all over again.”
“I might have more fun with it now,
and not try so hard to be
something I’m not…”
And can you see the way she has
colored my life?
Take inventory of what she’s created.
Watch me now, as I sit in the sun,
my belly full of warmth;
my heart, of awe and attention.
Watch me now as I smile and
let this never-done poem be
exactly, exactly what it is.