He pressed his face against canvasignoring signs marked Do Not Touch,zooming in, with one bright iris,on primary colors and shapes.
Shading him from the docent’s view,I guided his fingers with mineas he brushed the raised acrylic—oiled red monochrome of apples,barn, incongruous sails atophand-hewn canoes floating downstreambetween log cabins and tall pines.
I described windows of churches—Holding his fingertips steady,traced straight lines of rectangled frames,sketched curves of intricate stained glass,leaned in close as he discoveredthe rendering of wood and stone.
He asked me to read every wordwritten beside each vivid scene—to repeat these lines: “She’s a treeof life to them who can lay holdupon her” wondered why no “she”appeared in the painted landscape [End Page 116]
he could see only when his hands,held tightly in my own, reached out;yielded to my pressure; stroked trees,revealing fruit—his eyes open. [End Page 117]
Catherine Pritchard Childress lives in East Tennessee where she teaches writing and literature at East Tennessee State University and Northeast State Community College. Her work has appeared or is forthcoming in North American Review, Louisiana Literature, Connecticut Review, Still: The Journal, The Cape Rock, Town Creek Poetry, drafthorse, Stoneboat, Kaimana, and Kudzu, and has been anthologized in The Southern Poetry Anthology, Volume VI: Tennessee.