At the Easel with Alzheimer's

by Rachel Dacus

My father is painting in the basement: blue,
green, yellow. The cinder block's wall white-
wash is tanned with dust and the ocean view
obscured by a flapping sheet of vinyl. It fights

the wind. He says he's inspired to blue. My call
comes to the studio phone. His greeting: I can place
you. You're the pharmacist, right? The pall
on his memory has not dimmed his bad taste

in jokes or how at the easel he's always affable
over the scribble of boar's bristle, the give
of canvas to brush. I skip over laughable
lapses, as when he asks me where I live

and then pretends he was kidding. Name-
dropping, his mind grows patches, nicks
and spores like the salt on his aluminum
windows that will eventually make them stick.

Painting down there, his panes always closed,
the air is warm and dry, not a hint of the sea.
What are you working on, now? His nose
nearly on the canvas, he can only say,

It's getting better, going somewhere. It's green,
blue and not as grim as it sounds. A brain
grows lacy and colors squirm like the skeins
of her yarns above the washing machine.
Don't fight the wind, I tell him. Be a net.
Catch the world by letting it slip the knots.