Up through the Pink Light

by LC Douglass 3 months ago in art

Locked Down in the Lockdown

Up through the Pink Light

Locked down in the lockdown,

Alone in the house,

I thought I would organize everything

From the past one hundred years.

I have mementos from you

And other, resolute ancestors

I know them only from their black-and-white photographs

And their remnants from seven different houses,

The oldest being the one in England,

Which had a hole in the basement

And a stream running through it.

Relatives I never knew

Left behind things they bought and made,

The arts and crafts of past generations.

Great great Aunt Amy’s cabinet needs fixing

A cabinet from Detroit when Detroit was grand.

Great grandfather’s rocking chair,

That he made by hand.

In the spring of the lockdown,

I unpacked what you made.

After a long winter and nineteen years before that

Mementos from you, a dead survivor.

And nearly everyone who did not understand

Is now dead too. I’m glad you’re not here to see this

You’d be undone to see me like this.

You wanted so much for me and never thought

It would come to this. Maybe for you, you thought, yes.

But never, no, never for me.

It wasn’t supposed be like this

For me. Paintings you made

And sculptures, thrown in the basement,

Negated yourself, mouse-eaten,

When each rodent-urine-stained page

Shows such great elevation.

I cleaned them off and saw the difference

Between base living and being

Between doing and creating.

There is a dignified legacy,

A foundation not wasted on ego impulses and junk

That needs to be sold and thrown out

But real products of a precious mind.

It’s been twenty years since you died.

I want to honor you, do you justice, give you back your voice

Ironic, to bring these paintings back to life

When everyone is masked, social distanced, and silenced,

Their accounts unaccounted for, sleepwalking through

Summer into a bankrupt, infected winter.

The line between failure, loss, death and enduring foundation

Depends on how you see things.

In the spring of the lockdown, I picked peonies,

Put pink petals in square vases before your pink paintings.

Daddy said when you saw things

You spoke with absolute authority

He spoke with respect, said no one

Could question your decisions

About color and light.

Your voice was made voiceless

By betrayal, abuse, accidents,

No justice or recovery. But your paintings speak for you

After daddy died, I took them out of storage

And hung them up, room by room, colors overlapping.

You taught me how to see colors as layers of light.

It makes me think of living in Leipzig,

Lost, on a lonely afternoon.

I had wandered off the street map

Of visited places into an unknown quarter.

Grey-green leaves fell all around me

A gift from you, your view sent from above.

Because I saw that color

That grey-green, unique, yet familiar,

It was something only you could see.

And because you taught me how to see what you could see,

In Leipzig, in that atmosphere of gathering rainfall,

The parked cars arcing along the curved street,

The way back home lit up for me. First, the grey-green,

Next, the antique stores with music box birdies in cages

Pluming their metal petals for feathers

Doggies and pigeons and folded-up signs,

With arrows chalked in neon yellow

Pointing to red velvet bags drawn shut with embroidered ribbons

In a bay-windowed junk shop.

When I remember it now, I’m not sure it even existed

Or if I was ever there, lost, retracing my steps.

You taught me to see things as colors, and colors as light,

And it meant you were there and I wasn’t alone.

You left me those signs so I could find my way home.

I looked up, past my umbrella,

Segmented, up at the free-moving clouds.

And because I knew how to see, I made my way home.

Home makes me think of Italian window cookies

And walnut thimble cookies, dabbed with apricot jelly

Edible love and stained glass.

One year, you preserved wild grape jelly

A perfect violet, the art of natural royalty.

And wild apples from the hedgerow,

I can scarcely believe they existed,

Magic apples in their syrup

Gold-blush preserves, ready for winter

With their cinnamon sticks for company.

You studied under someone

Who studied under Josef Albers

So when you cooked, everything looked like a colorist painting.

You made meals we remembered for decades.

Simple nights recalled for forty years.

We ate colors as flavors,

Transmuted through commitment and love.

It’s not enough to say,

“That was so good.” Each color brought us closer

And closer to seeing in mapless, non-linear ways.

Now I see, it wasn’t the food or the paintings

The chairs, photographs, cabinets,

The stuff tossed in the basement.

Nothing we owned or made

Mattered more than the colors you captured in things

Made manifest. And in each color, a light

Made manifest. And in each light, a sight

Made manifest, like the great work,

The magnum opus that merges color with color

In stages of separation and transformation,

To change how we see.

Black confronts white,

Which turns white-silver to gold,

And gold, so challenged, becomes

Rose, in purple-pink petaled sunsets and sunrises.

A clear light revealed from blue depths

In lives lived beyond symbols

Past language and politics,

Past money, past death.

art
LC Douglass
LC Douglass
Read next: Poem: New Life
LC Douglass

Award-winning writer & blogger. I analyze the impact of technology on 21st century history.

Tech Culture Blog: https://historiesofthingstocome.blogspot.com/

Site: https://www.lcdouglass.com/

Writer's Blog: https://lcdouglass.blogspot.com/

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