Terence Roe

hide and seek

he’d been counting to a thousand
after what seemed a lifetime
there in his cold studio
his solitude of secret thought
she found him
where else?

he’d been a painter after all
but was old now
too old to care about painting
or anything other
than loss of reason
and her
his American

it was the way his father had gone
we knew the story
it had been told a hundred times
though not in succession
that would’ve been tragic

Pa would say:
“Haven’t had a smoke all day” so we’d light him a cigar
which he’d smoke
no sooner was it out
he would say
“Haven’t had a smoke all day”

now he’d been caught
hunched over between his large bright canvases
covering his tightly shut eyes
with veined fists
believing as a child might
that by not seeing
you are unseen

he was seeking invisibility
shutting out the bombs
of fallen war
shutting out
strange homes around the corner
stranger voices telling you to eat your food
to stop kissing the ladies at the tea table
to zip your fly
it’s a dread we all share
going back to boarding
at 90

when suggesting he’d been hiding
he remarked
“so well hidden I couldn’t even find myself”

a philosophical joke
a playful nod
catch me if you can?
and seek the invisible
perfectly camouflaged against
his own abstractions

a nod to death
but death hadn’t nodded back
was playing the game
was counting