“An artist should be hired,” they declared, “to commemorate the event!”
All agreed it was a splendid idea, so for a painter they sent.
He arrived and listened intently, as they described the town’s victory.
The struggles they had faced, their brave overcoming of adversity.
“We would like a great mural to be displayed at town hall,
To remind us of our deliverance and our rescue from the fall.”
They told him of the leader who had risen to face the war,
How he’d been a beacon to them and a force to rally for.
After hearing all the painter said, “I’ll set to work at once!”
The townsfolk said, “We’ll see to bring him anything he wants!”
Before the barren wall, alone, the artist closed his eyes.
In his mind he saw the scene, the fire and smoke-filled skies.
He took a breath and smelled the blood of innocence spilled
And wept as he recalled the stories of those tragically killed.
Then he touched the wall and felt the firm foundation, now re-laid.
He marveled at the resilience of the people and the price they paid.
He listened to the quiet sounds of peace upon the evening air;
The blissful laughs of children, playing safely, without a care.
Then the face of this serenity’s author came afresh into his mind,
A man of depth and character, determined, strong and kind.
Taking up his brush, as the lines and curves began to form
From within his heart the artist watched the empty space transform.
He worked on through the night, barely stopping to close an eye,
And by morning a magnificent masterpiece greeted the baker who’d stopped by.
“I’ve brought some fresh bread for breakfast,” the jolly man called out.
Then he stared at the mural before him and asked, “What’s this bit about?”
“That represents the moment when your noble flag flew high!”
“But how is that a flag? And why the stars…is that the sky?”
“Stars, indeed,” the artist answered, “for every life so dearly lost.”
The baker said, “Well, it’s a start, but none of that is coming across.”
So, patiently and earnestly, the artist’s afternoon was spent
Attempting to carefully clarify in paint his symbolic intent.
That evening the reverend came to see the work’s progress.
He gazed and frowned and said at length, “I really must confess,”
“I cannot seem to find within your piece where God is seen.
He must be there for without His Grace this never would have been.”
The artist pointed quickly to the upper corner of the wall,
“Ah, I wouldn’t have forgotten! See how’s heaven’s rays here fall!”
The reverend said, “Perhaps they could be brighter; that’s what I suggest,
But, of course, you are the artist, and I’m sure that you know best.”
The painter sat upon the floor and thought the whole night through.
Then morning found him working on a design that was brand new.
“Ah! I see you’ve started fresh, my boy, is this our patriot grand?
But what is upon his shirtfront? And what carries he in his hand?”
“Good morning, mayor, indeed, this is the hero of your story!
I thought his visage would best express and capture full its glory!”
“His shirt bears the cross of Christ, who played the pivotal role,
And in his hand, a list of of those dead, to honor the tragic toll.”
The mayor declared, “It sounds well explained, but think of this,
When you are gone how will we know what all this is?”
“I think you might consider the simplicity of the populace,
For something more direct would better serve all of us.”
Disheartened but not defeated the painter set about to detail
The image of the hero, who had helped the town prevail.
And he worked with feverish vigor, determined to get it right.
And the portrait grew in detail as he labored all that night.
When morning came, the people gathered round to see it done.
And they grumbled to each other, and muttered one by one,
“Just a picture! Nothing special! Where’s the art in that?
Why anyone could have done it! It’s a mere photograph.”
more by VK LYNNE
photograph by Mike Petricci