I have drawn the sun so
the hysterical yellow arcs on the page-corners
of landscapes with triangle-on-square houses,
pictures I would, as a boy, make because
it was what I thought you should draw,
with the six of my family beside the house
as though this were the way we greeted visitors
in our real life, all lined up and smiling, from my dad,
nearly the first floor tall, to my little, skirted sister.
And the less-horrible but still bad suns
I put in the paintings I sometimes made
those years I went by Red, sketching out
imagined odalisques, their landscapes
so flat and boring. But my family I got better at,
inventing long blue heads and bodies,
propping them up against all-red backgrounds.
These portraits were what I made well,
and decided my family must, then, matter.
And because we spent those years silent
for not knowing how to say what mattered,
I made these pictures that didn't say a thing,
only showed family or father or son
in the middle of one of these red worlds.
It was the only way to say something then,
among us, or else at each Sunday mass
when the priest would give us a moment
for meet-and-greet and we, rather than talk,
kissed out the weekly truce we'd established,
our way to say everything was all right,
where once my jaw and lips worked to keep
the gristled hair of my father's face brushing longer
against mine like he was one of the girls
who had recently been teaching me to kiss.
After, we went on with the mass, chewed
the dry button of God, knelt, prayed a while,
then walked out, to where the sun throbbed so hot
we had to squint to make out the car. And home,
I went down to my paints, to spray
red on wood and smear our faces into being.