Seniors & Aging

Reader poem: ‘Color Bearer’

— Winter, Upper Peninsula, Michigan

Color drains from the landscape.

How does one survive the long,

bleak winter season?

For five consecutive weeks my father

descended to our dark musty basement

carrying a drab kitchen chair with him.

There he performed his alchemy

enlivening each chair

with a unique and harmonious hue.

The first was mustard seed yellow;

the next exotic tea leaf green;

then English rose pink;

followed by jack-o’-lantern orange,

the final chair a deep slate blue

like Lake Superior before a storm.

Five times he ascended the cellar stairs

bearing a colorful chair and returning it

to its rightful place at the kitchen table.

Everyone in our family was surprised

and delighted by each successive chair.

At the end of the procession none of us

could decide which one we liked best.

Color and harmony inhabited our home.

The following winter, my father had a stroke.

He died on Valentine’s Day.

When our nation’s colors were draped

over his coffin, color drained

from my life. I was inconsolable.