Wednesday, April 20, 2016

The Painter

  I have known Heinz since the early 2000s. We met on a poetry site and discovered we had some common interests. Though we have known one another for close to 15 years, I only recently discovered that in 1982, he lost his third child to a tragic accident. If I had learned this before having a child of my own, this may not have hit home. But as a father with a toddler of his own now, I felt tremendous, wrenching empathy for him and his story. It's a horror every parent hopes to circumvent, period.

  Realizing that no parent ever "gets over" the loss of a child, no matter how much time passes, I offered to write a memorial poem for his son, Benjamin, and he graciously accepted:

The Painter

for Heinz & Maureen Scheuenstuhl
in memory of Benjamin Patrick Scheuenstuhl
April 1, 1981 — September 7, 1982

I think you would have been a painter, son,
for though you only dreamed through nineteen moons,
you filled my days with color—every one—
and though a lifetime later I still mourn,
the vibrancy of all you were remains
refracted on the canvas of my soul,
reflected in the artwork of my mien.
Your strokes of laughter still adorn the holds
of memory with pigments bright and bold.
The accent of your curiosity
still decorates my thoughts, and still consoles
a grief that burns with black ferocity.
Your masterpiece, with all its wrenching hues
of joy remains enshrined within my heart.

  This was an incredible challenge to write. In fact, I had written it near to completion three times before I decided to scrap the idea and try another angle entirely. In the end, I finally decided on this metaphor, explored in the form of a Spenserian sonnet (easily my favorite sonnet form out of those I've explored).

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