Oscar Joseph is always painting old houses.
We go to visit him with a bottle of powerade
because he forgets he is diabetic
He works until his hands tremble with fatigue.
I smell the oppressive fumes
At the street corner. I barge through the door shouting,
“Oscar Joseph, Why are you painting with the windows closed
On a warm winter day?”
His eyes look a little funny and his words seem slurred,
“ window swon’t open.”
I get that alot.
I’m not so good at doors
A pry bar
Some dubious looking knives from the garage sale outside
A soft mallet, exacto blades, screwdrivers
and motivation of Fear for his glazed eyes.
I tear away at the stained frame
seals of time
Pounding with putty knife
Feeling the glass tremble in its
wondering if I will adequately be able to explain
resulting injuries to an ER doctor
“well, I was trying to open an ancient window
with a meat fork and kitchen knife…”
as westerly prairie winds
billow dust through the stinging vapor haze
along with sounds of geese at 2000 feet
I am tiring at the fourth north window
Yellow Dog is coughing and pulling on my pant leg
He’s my canary in a coal mine.
Oscar Joseph is laughing his deep rolling laugh again
spirits cleared from his head.
No longer speaking in tongues
but in real words
Most of which I can decipher
for I have developed a few phantoms of my own
He squeezes my smarting arm.
“I didn’t realize.
I didn’t know the windows would open.
I didn’t know how to start.”
I am sore and achy tonight
but I contemplate on my life’s work:
the Thousand Thousand Times
I reached toward seething, smoldering hearts