Learning to Paint
I worked with the older painters,
union men and slow as Christmas
but their style was perfection,
laying down a thick coat of enamel
over intricate moldings, frame and trim
with long, seamless strokes. No brushmarks, no drips.
They never used tape, not even for windows.
“Better a good brush and a steady hand.”
They taught me attention and care,
cleaning and double cleaning the bristles
in solvent, then water and soap, then wash again.
All winter we detailed a white mansion
overlooking a snow-covered lake.
The owner was head of HR for Giant Seeds,
a family man, and he spent the season with his wife
in Florida splashed with green.
The house was empty, just me and the three men
in white, painting white, disappearing into our work
on schedule, and we finished the day before
he returned, gathering our brushes, buckets and drop cloths,
leaving nothing behind, spotless, calm, as if
we were never there.