Saturday, July 04, 2009
How did this ever get a bad rap? (Sunday's Poem, 24)
Painting a Room
Here on a March day in ‘89
I blanch the ceiling and walls with bluish lime.
Drop cloths and old newspapers hide
the hardwood floors. All my furniture has been sold,
or given away to bohemian friends.
There is nothing to eat but bread and wine.
An immigration visa in my pocket, I paint
the small apartment where I’ve lived for ten years.
Taking a break around 4 p.m.,
I sit on the last chair in the empty kitchen,
smoke a cigarette and wipe my tears
with the sleeve of my old pullover.
I am free from regrets but not from pain.
Ten years of fears, unrequited loves, odd jobs,
of night phone calls. Now they’ve disconnected the line.
I drop the ashes in the sink, pour turpentine
into a jar, stirring with a spatula. My heart throbs
in my right palm when I pick up the brush again.
For ten years the window’s turquoise square
has held my eyes in its simple frame.
Now, face to face with the darkening sky,
what more can I say to the glass but thanks
for being transparent, seamless, wide
and stretching perspective across the size
of the visible.
Then I wash the brushes and turn off the light.
This is my last night before moving abroad.
I lie down on the floor, a rolled-up coat
under my head. This is the last night.
Freedom smells of a freshly painted room,
of wooden floors swept with a willow broom,
and of stale raisin bread.
I picked today's poem in part because I've been thinking about a family in the news who lost their house to foreclosure and decided to up and move to Africa for the next year or so, and in part because I have painted a room and know what that's like -- although not what it's like to pain a room before moving abroad -- and in part because Painting A Room reminded me of the Tom Milsom song "Watching Paint Dry."
Which is a ridiculously -- but in a good way -- dramatic song for a pasttime (?) that's been used as a synonym for boredom for decades, if not longer.
So. Um. I don't know. It all seemed like that made sense before I wrote it.
Also, you can listen to the Tom Milsom song here. It's worth the trip - -especially considering you don't even have to get up.
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