I sit here in this room, the one with the pale yellow walls. It isn’t a color I chose. What’s the point of yellow if it isn’t sunlight or flowers or grain or the curls of my son’s hair?
On the north wall there is a light-up moon and a framed print of a single bed, a small round table with a stack of papers, a chair, and a lighted candle. Penciled in beneath the picture it says, “And let us set for him there a bed, a table and a candlestick. – Kings 4:10.
It is obviously night in those dark colors. But it is also a warm place, a place where there can be no conflict.
Taped to the west wall is a water color painting that Ian made. It is a big picture but I don’t know what it is. It could be the movement of our expanding universe, stilled for a moment. Or it could be rocks on the shore of a deep lake, a shimmer of summertime.
There is a window on this wall. It lets in glowing yellow sunlight in the afternoon. If it’s winter time, the light is white and quick to drop away. What, then, can be grasped in winter? And I noticed today that it is already autumn and winter is coming so soon.
This morning, as I walked down to the creek to see if it had water or if it was still dry, my path was gilded and leaves fell upon my head. I stopped then, smelled the air, and looked up the street. Autumn was everywhere! I tucked it away in my memory and brought it back here, to this chair and this desk and this room.
On the south wall there are cut outs of California, Texas, Massachusetts, and Pennsylvania. A purple arrow points at them. Tell me Vincent, my son, why these places?
On the wall, next to Vincent’s states, is an oil painting of a road, old asphalt, covered with the shadows of wildly growing trees. The low house on the left, in front of the banana trees, is made of mud and sticks but it’s hard to know that because the pink paint is so bright. If you went inside, the floor would be dirt, swept smooth and air would be cool.
There is no one on the road. There are no children selling oranges, no women hauling water, no men playing dominoes in the shade of those wildly growing trees. They are all inside, napping in their hammocks, while the sun and the clouds float over the purple mountains.
I would like to be there, in the quivering heat, wrapped in ever-tropical bloom. But, for now, my place is here.
On the east wall, Jesus hangs from Blanche’s cross. Tucked in under Jesus’ splayed brass arms is a St. Brigid’s cross fashioned from the foil of silvery gum wrappers. Once, about 10 years ago, after Blanche died, Jesus’ head fell off. I glued it back on. It’s still holding.
Then there is the door, cornered between east and north. It is white. The gold paint on the doorknob has flaked away and it can be seen for what it is– a roughed up mix of metals, an alloy, with a button lock that is popped so easily.
On the door hangs a braided rope of sweet grass. A long ago friend gave that to me for protection on this journey. His mother collected it from a field somewhere near Edmonton, somewhere in Alberta, somewhere far away from the walls of this room.