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The Old Painting Shirt
The blank beginning,
To which the paint would splatter and catch.
Softness that would become tacky,
With the joyful splotches,
And dots of childhood mishaps.
Hanging down to my knees,
Covering the frame of a little girl,
With her waist at table height,
Giggling as she attacks the paper,
Or canvas with uncoordinated strokes.
A dream catcher of liquid childhood,
That slips through the brush bristles,
And little fingers,
To land on the once too big T-shirt.
Now as I pull it out of the laundry for the first time,
In what has probably been years,
And fingertips flutter,
Over old stains,
Faded but claiming the fabric as clearly as ever before,
Slipping arms and face,
Through the once cavernous holes,
As I thought a perfect fit.
Now that I no longer need the painting shirt,
One because my “art work” is a less frequent occurrence,
And two because my strokes are neater,
Even as they are still uncoordinated,
They are not better,
Just filled with less fervor.
Irony that as my strokes became neater,
Life became noisier,
Until all the kid like happy,
That used to spill onto the pointless page,
More like permanent ink,
Bled out from the brushes,
Blending all the colors together,
Once distinct now in disarray,
Into the heavy canvas that is life.
Glance down and think,
This shirt was a rag for the mistakes,
A shield for clothes,
From all colors unwashable.
Wouldn’t it be nice,
If life had paint shirts?
You could splatter and brush your canvas,
Without worrying about knocking over bottles of color,
All the mistakes,
And how they stain you.