a visible trace of earlier painting on a canvas
Not exactly lost, sometimes I wander
through the day in a mood of ambiguity
about who I imagine myself to be
as I become old, older, elder, elder-ish.
Until I pass by a mirror
and think, Who is that stranger?
I move along quickly, startled!
I need no one new, certainly not
this undeniable antique.
Yet there in that image,
that relentless canvas
is a new friend I must clasp.
Or collapse over the change.
Time has painted over. And over:
has disappeared my fluent early lines
and colors. Now a vintage pigment,
the crevices, cracks, shadows dominate,
the effect not so lovely as
the progress of time in trees,
the rings: lovely pale wood at the start
of a year, a strong dark circle at the end.
We count dark rings to find the age.
yet there is much more light pale wood
until the very end.
Why not dark wood,
ending in a bright finish?
But perhaps I underestimate darkness
as a finale. After all, it’s the completion
of light, the culmination.
Now look closely at my canvas.
I see the earlier layers of pastel
sneak through, flashes
of my youthful flush that drew
the world to me no matter the fierce
anger and undertow in my soul.
Beauty carried the day,
effortless, loveable, a loyal currency.
Now the artistry of nature, time,
experience owns my image
yet inside: my radiance, a glow lives.
A more measured, enduring soul.
Yes! Like even long after sunset, how
the sky fills with pastels, even the whites
of clouds with lavender, pinks, turquoise.
I look again at this sunset,
how all along the horizon,
all those luminous pastels,
how they fade elegantly
into the waning shadows
and fulfil themselves
in the dark.
Louisa Gallas reaches for the Path Mary Oliver affirmed:
"Paying attention is a form of prayer." She is an original member of Milwaukee Earth Poets and Musicians; a participant in Wisconsin Artists In Residence; and author of three books: Revelations on Longing Street, The Wizard's Dream, and Rescue the Good Stuff.