The studio has been closed for nearly two months.
It is cold there, and the paints are stiff and thick.
You turn on the heater, but it will take time
before your breath ceases to create clouds with each breath.
There are two half-finished paintings, so old
you have lost the inspiration that started them.
They look flat and lifeless and you cannot choose
between finishing, or whitewashing to start again.
There is a large frame on the floor awaiting new canvas.
but you are feeling small, diminished, not ready for boldness,
growing back into yourself one step at a time.
Forward. Back. Forward again.
You are uncertain. Your feelings have been overwhelmed
by your brush with death and you cannot even name the demons, if demons they are, that haunt you.
They are like ghosts, disappearing each time you draw near.
There is a chair in the middle of the floor. A garish thing,
full of bright magic. Half-finished, the color fighting
the original dark stain, the carvings crying for color.
A color you cannot feel.
But feelings are fleeting. As desirable as they are,
you learned long ago you can function without them,
and that it is the work that brings them back,
that allows you to overcome the things that overcome you.
And so you pick up a brush. With effort, you squeeze
the first bright color onto the palette. Red.
The color of passion reclaimed. The color of blood.
The color you lack.
And you paint.
About this poem.
I have been out of my studio for about six or seven weeks, unable to stand long enough to do any good work. With luck, I go back for a few hours tomorrow.
Recovery is more than physical. There’s a mental/emotional/spiritual element as well, and often that takes longer than mere bodily healing. But there is rehab for that too. I’ve lived in a place of numbness since that first announcement of cancer a few months ago. And even now, after all the tests and surgery and more tests, after beating it back to zero, that invisible part is just now starting to heal.
It’s all work. It’s all worth it.
And tomorrow? I’ll probably start with the chair.