Submissions: Painting Jesus

with-open-arms

Painting Jesus

My dad, a house painter, once
got a job restoring an old statue
of Jesus. The owners wanted it
refurbished, and then re-erected
at a local cemetery, the sentinel.

Dad kept the figure in his small
shop downtown, lying on saw-
horses among various windows
and doors awaiting paint; he said
it was peaceful having him there,
the worn and weathered savior,
that there was a blanket of calm
over the shop during that time.

I admit I don’t recall having seen
him happier with work than in the
months he was bringing Jesus back
to life, detailing the skin, the eyes,
the hair and thorn crown carefully,
asking Mom and me if he looked
real enough, if this shade or that
should be altered ever slightly.

A bond was formed, I think, and
importantly: it was one of his own
creation, one that wasn’t forced upon
him by the Methodists of western
Pennsylvania that he fought his entire
young life to escape, one that became
vital for him in our family’s time of
hardship—bankruptcy, depression,
unemployment, sickness—and when
the project ended, he still took time to
visit the statue where it stands now,
proud sentry of a small graveyard
in the town that borders our own.

Just last week he visited at sunset,
and as he stood watching Jesus, he
said the sky turned to black. He
thought it was cloud-cover at first,
but looking up, he realized that a
thousand robins were flying overhead,
making the sky into a dark fluttering
mass. You see, we are a family of people
who wait for small miracles; every day
we wait. Then a thousand robins fill
the sunset like a snow cloud, and we
must understand that we are heard
in our waiting.

Castle Yuran is an MFA graduate from Goddard College, professional writing tutor at Northwest Connecticut Community College, and English teacher at Post University. This poem comes from her MFA thesis collection entitled, Home is a Road.

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