This morning I was trying to find a particular photograph for a painting I’ve been working on. I stumbled upon this one and was fascinated by the colors that were captured on a foggy morning a few weeks ago.
The sun always has a way of washing out the colors. I was taken by surprise by the vitality of the “color-grays” in the stumps of these two dead trees shrouded in fog. The rings of a shortened life held so much interest which led me to think of my artist mentor/friend, Jack, who’s now 96 and living in an assisted-living home in Maine. I immediately thought of my other oldest friend, Mildred, actually a relative (my great-grandmother’s niece which I’m not sure what that makes her to me relative-wise) who just turned 96 as well. The last time I saw Dorothy and Jack they were standing in the yard by their fence, waving. She died several years ago. And Mildred and Russel, they were waving from their breeze-way the last time I saw them together at their house in Pennsylvania. He died in 2004.
The next thing I knew, I was writing a poem about them – these two remaining spouses, and the first thoughts that I had about them today as these two tree stumps spoke to me. This draft needs a lot of work, but there’s enough light here to speak to the universal themes of life, love, and the possibility of forever. There’s enough here to revisit, to rework.
In the middle of everyday living, it’s fun to take a moment and go where your thoughts take you. That’s the greatest thing about being an artist, I suppose. There is no minutia.
Or is it all minutia?
My Oldest Friends at 96 (Draft 1)
He prefers to watch blades of grass
Not the full impact of a rolling lawn up a hillside he can no longer climb
But the individual shafts
As light rolls across them with rainbows of color
Deep greens, mauve, purples, ocher, and russets
These blades thrust from dust.
She prefers people, vibrant people
The ones vital still, who work and play and plan
She watches the news, keeps up with current events,
Cannot dwell in the past where those she remembers have faded
And not just from memory.
Each of them lived true-love stories,
Travelled parallel paths by marrying late in life
Joined by over 12 decades of marriage between them.
I will always remember them as couples. They stand
On a sunny morn, arms interlocked,
First hello, and then goodbye.
And I remember her telling me that this love was endless
Like the inscription inside her wedding band,
The infinity of a circle inscribed simply—Forever.
The long-timeness of it—forever.
For Jack and Mildred. ©ntaylorcollins 2011