The Old Painter

by David Mampel

I like to pretend

a serious painter

wearing a loose shirt

lives rent-free
in my attic hideaway.

His voice wakes me

singing unselfconsciously

in the lazy enchantment

of a Sunday afternoon.

Tea boils on the stove

and we sit together

sipping in silence.

He stares down a fly

buzzing and bumping against

the almost-sunny window pane.

He feels like a wild grandfather

just sitting there

intensely in his body

without a word.

I love the yellow paint

lost on his sleeve.

Tears slowly surprise

sleepiness from my eyes

when he offers

to teach me

how to make and stretch

my own canvas.

I kiss him on the cheek

and smell his urgency

in the short life

he has left.

I am younger than a real man

my age,

but today I tasted death

and know I will paint
old trees for the first time

with fierce beauty

breaking away

from the seal of approval

in uncommon colors

mixed on a pallet

with anger, fear, joy

and sadness to back me up!