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Johannes F. Kaskela, my grandfather, painting Jesus for St. Matthew's Finnish Lutheran Church, 1950

Johannes F. Kaskela, my grandfather, painting Jesus for St. Matthew’s Finnish Lutheran Church, 1950

Last night I dreamed
of the forked stick that
my grandfather cut from
the Connecticut woods to
divine the perfect spot
for a well for the new
home he was building of
stone to help leave behind
the crushing death of their son,
twenty-one, in a smelter
of Canadian nickel.

This morning I remembered
the portraits, near life-size,
that he painted of Jesus when
he wasn’t painting houses
or tending to the chickens
whose eggs my grandmother
sorted and sold, that

when it came time
to paint Christ’s face,
he always walked in
the woods, alone.

I don’t know what he gathered
among the pines and juniper,
but he always got the faces
right and the water from
our well still flows.

~~~

With special thanks to my sister, Lisa Bobechko, the family archivist, without whom these photographic treasures would no longer exist.

© Elaine Stirling, 2012