Sandra Staas



WATER COLOUR BEFORE CREMATION
Glasgow, 1964

Frozen father beneath scars,
polished wood, clasped hands.

His paintings and books lie on
the mantel piece, pages fluttering
as Auntie Madge plays the piano,
her long slim fingers trembling,
her lips tight.

The clan gathers. Old friends arrive,
the men's bunnets in their hands,
even cousins twice removed
turn up at our house to say a last
farewell, to say they're awfy sorry and
how awful for him to die so young.

Yet  street lights flicker on the walls
as lovers giggle by and Mrs. McFadden
hastens to buy a large meat pie,
whilst the tea pot simmers.   The fog horns
from the ships on the Clyde bellow mournful
laments. Just another day.

"If you kiss him, it'll help you get over his
death." A gentle tug pulls me to the coffin.

He had  never wanted affection, never even
offered it, so why  start now?

"Gie us a smile, hen. Aye. Ye'll remember
this day for the rest of yer life. Make it a good
wan. Huv a wee nip of whiskey, if ye like."

I ignore the offer, trying hard not to scowl,
then take the water colour brush from
its container. I lean over my father to
caress his face with the soft bristles,
painting away the injustice, the anger.





Sandra Staas grew up in Glasgow, Scotland and graduated from Hamilton College of Education and, later, from the University of Maryland with the B.A. in Psychology, and from the University of Pittsburgh with an M.A. in Hispanic Literature.  She has been  published in various literary magazines, including Innisfree, Pittsburgh Quarterly, LoyalHanna Review, New Hope International, and two Sandburg-Livesay Award Anthologies.  She has photographed and written many photo tours, all of which can be found at www.virtourist.com.









                                    

 

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