PAD 24: As Seasons Roll

From winter to spring, the seasons roll

Every year it has been so,

Every year it will be.

When snow tarries into March or April,

Still we know that spring is coming soon,

The snow won’t last, the days do lengthen,

Bright, breezy days will follow.

We do not question it even though

We cannot see the grass or feel the warmth,

We have faith that Nature will not let us down.

So when we fear and feel afraid of death’s dark door

And what is to come, have faith that

God will not abandon us, and just as surely

As spring follows winter, so too does

Light follow darkness.

 

 

(PAD prompt April 24, 2017: Write a faith poem.)

In Memoriam

1-Paintings

These are some of my paintings and drawings, none of which would have been possible without two men: my father and my art teacher, Charlie. Seven years ago this November, the heavens were made richer by the passing of my father; less than two weeks ago, Charlie joined the heavenly studio and enriched them yet again.

Back in 2007, my father asked me to join him at art class over the summer. I said yes, not because I had any particular artistic leaning or thought I had any talent but because I wanted to spend time with him in a pursuit he loved. Even if I was simply driving him and schlepping the materials, I was happy to be there, but that wasn’t good enough for Charlie. As long as I was at the studio, I would draw; I would paint. He would teach me.

Charlie did so much more than teach me how to draw. First, he taught me how to see, how to look at a picture or a still life and see a shape rather than an object. “How big is it? Where is it?” These are the questions he would ask whenever we started a drawing. They are the questions I ask myself now still. Once the preliminary shapes are in, Charlie’s chorus of “lights and darks” sounds in my mind, and his lesson on perspective with the disappearing railroad tracks lined with trees is vividly with me as well as the circles of shading from dark to light that decorate every beginning student’s sketch pad. “If we put that head in a closet and turned off all the lights, it would look black,” he would say of the bust we were drawing. His lessons remind me that how we see something depends on where we stand and how much light is shining on the subject.

But some things were not relative to Charlie, and these are the more important lessons I learned from him. His strong faith guided him. He not only knew his Bible and the lives of the saints, but also developed life long relationships with priests and sisters who are doing good work in the world today. His faith was a living faith, and one of the ways he lived it was in building a community.

Popular culture has built a reputation for artists as cut-throat opportunists vying for  the best showing, but that is not what one finds at Charlie’s studio. There is a warmth there and encouragement, from Charlie for sure, but from the other artists as well because he created an atmosphere of celebrating art, our own and each others. We look for the good and highlight it.

Now, Charlie has died, and part of me relived my father’s passing when that happened because Charlie knew and loved my dad. But, just as I know that my father lives on in me, Charlie is not gone either. His beautiful art is still here; his wonderful, caring family is still here, and his studio, the supportive community he built, is still here. He often said, “Remember, the real reason for painting is to leave our mark—to celebrate our existence.” Charlie, you left your mark on me and so many others through your painting and your life. For that, I thank you. Requiscat in pace.

PAD 18: Two Vowels

Today’s prompt is difficult. Rather than a topic, we are given a restriction. Choose any two vowels and use only words that have one or both of those vowels. No other vowels allowed except Y. As an English teacher, I immediately thought of that good old rule i before e. But after musing for a few lines, I found I was instead writing a poem about eternity and faith.

Eternity

In every existence

There is eternity and finite-ness.

We begin, we persevere,

We expect to die, yet

We likewise expect to live

In Eternity.

With Him, we will.

PAD 14: Honesty/Dishonesty

Today’s topic of honesty or dishonesty fit well with my teaching schedule as I spent 90 minutes with my seniors discussing plagiarism and examining examples thereof. Yet dishonesty is not the direction I went tonight when I was finally able to sit down and write my poem.

Honesty

It is a bright sun-shiny day

That we all look forward too.

Everyone rejoices when the skies clear

And the warmth returns.

We all run to be outside,

To bask in its goodness,

To revel in its clarity,

To rejoice in its openness.

But by mid-afternoon the heat

Beats down.

We wilt under its scrutiny,

Grow irritable in its humidity,

Become snappish in its oppressiveness.

That same sun, that same brightness

Which we praised and extolled

Becomes the weight we decry.

We want to be children of the light

But we are afraid of what may be

Brought to light.

We need faith to remain

Honest.