After Gerry Davis’s ‘Plein Air II’ 

Faced with a blank canvas in your art class,
all you could think to paint was the bonfire
where you keep burning your past. 
The flames still leap there, on the easel, 
though the heat went out of it years ago 
and you’ve been standing in the ashes too long;
the effort of keeping a shine on your shoes 
is becoming too much. 

You scarcely see yourself in the mirror these days
and you’re aware you have begun to dress 
like your mother in her Sunday best: suit, gloves, bag.
Time to open the clasp and see what’s in there,
her lipstick, compact and cotton hankie, or the key
that will put you back behind the wheel? 
There are photographs of your son
but best not look.

You sent money for a suit for the funeral 
but only bits of him turned up. He moved 
as if someone had taken an eraser to his legs
and he couldn’t connect with the ground
or feel a hand on his arm. There would be 
no eye contact, even as you watched him leave.
Instead, he turned his head to look beyond
the canvas on your easel, outside the frame 
of a once-shared past, its final pyre. 

IMAGE: Plein Air II, oil on linen, 153 x 117 cm, 2018. Gerry Davis©