— Winter, Upper Peninsula, Michigan
Color drains from the landscape.
How does one survive the long,
bleak winter season?
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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.