The Death of the Greatest Generation

by Matt Mitchell

 

i have always hated my great aunt’s paintings of the house
she & my grandfather grew up in. it is too late to live there,
because the city of grafton knocked it down a decade ago.
i’ve always hated it because she forgot to paint in the honeylocust
that lived in the front yard, the way god’s orange glow
wrapped its entire mouth around it at dusk.
everything is being taken away from me, slowly.
dad, please explain to me how a painting can tell you everything
your father no longer can. tell me about how the sunsets would swallow
the house windows & turn it into a lantern you could see
from the satellites. how the lock on the front door was jammed
with smears of golden delicious apples.
honeylocusts can live an entire century, but die before they even reach the canvas.
let me tell you, the white clapboard siding speaks to me
from the bottom of a central west virginia landfill,
where the my grandfather’s handkerchiefs & coors banquet ghosts live
in collapsed lumber. i can see the house, its blue roof & clothing lines,
the farmland stretching an entire ocean of appalachia.
a sunset glimpsing beautifully through the honeylocust,
spire of monument a painting could never do justice.
my skin catches warmth from the thought of its bark.
i am slowly becoming all of the places i’ve only driven past. 

 


Matt Mitchell is a writer from Ohio. His words appear or are forthcoming in venues including BARNHOUSE, NPR, Gordon Square Review, Frontier Poetry, and Glass: A Journal of Poetry, among others.