I'm a poet, currently a nominee as Poet Laureate of Florida, and my son, a 23 year old gifted painter. He lives at home, because that's how close he, his mother and I are, and because my wife's cooking won't be sacrificed for his independence.
We work together in our dining room, tarp laid on the carpet, my laptop on the table. Throughout the year, except in summer, the windows are open. He blares music; I wear headphones. We're in the same room but he's a flurry of brushstrokes as I throw away the weight of Self to enter the unconscious that I believe is collective, and harvests, inexhaustibly, the spirit of all.
I have nothing to teach my son about painting, but his character as a Millennial teaches me every day how to be a better poet.
He has no prejudice. When he enrolled in college , he joined and became Chair of the school's Gay Alliance, to protect students from taunts, or worse. He isn't homosexual, and when I asked why he'd taken it on, he said, "they're family."
The world is mad with violent misogyny, but my son and the friends he accepts are no part of it. It led me to discover the feminists who are dominating contemporary poetry through sheer gift, and are ignoring boundaries of faith, society and sexual identity. One will win the 2015 Pulitzer Prize and will sweep words before her until men become the kind of bower birds who reply in kind.My son and I work silently. He closes in on his intention on a canvas. I breathe three quarters of the way through a poem, before that last gallop down the furlong to the end. "No tears in the writer, no tears in the reader," said Robert Frost and the poem sits on the computer screen, organic and new, and my eyes wet.
My son steps away from his painting. We have--unknowingly--been near all along; the oil is an abstraction of sun that overtakes the sky like a coin that will be dropped into the water somewhere west, and brought to the surface by diving stars.
"That is very fine," I tell my son.
Photo: The author's son at work on a commission