Last Puzzle Piece

LastpuzzleFebruary, 2004
Oils on Masonite
19.5”x 24”
Framed in sticks
27”x 32”

Can we find the courage to be in the heart?

I didn’t set out to do a painting about my longing for a more open-hearted connection with the men in my life. But I kept thinking about them as I painted and about the flickers that have been around all winter and that I have come to think of as psychic messengers from my father. In the painting the male species seems to be holding the heart out to me – the last piece of the mystery – via the Treeman and Raven as I tumble past. The painting has other birds full of messages too.
At one point both my legs were stretched out – more easily caught hold of, open and ready. At the last minute I painted one of them out, pointing down. Pulling away – hurt so many times. Still protecting myself. As I worked on the stick frame I agonized about whether to paint the leg back in again. In doing so would I create the magic of being entirely open to the tentative advances of their opening hearts?

Especially my father. The heart is the last puzzle piece that is missing from the Swan’s Island painting done nine years ago. There my dad is turned away doing his own painting. If he turns toward me can either of us bear it? How many jig saw puzzles have we done together? How many puzzles is my dad to me?

Journal, 3/2/04: Dana said that when I was talking at my Out of the Ashes show and being so in my beauty and power, she suddenly saw my Dad. A kind of morph. He was approving. I told her about how he was changing as Mom’s Alzheimer’s caretaker and reaching out to us all. And I talked about beginning to realize a psychic connection with him. Lying in bed on an April visit to Pennsylvania a couple of years ago for his painting show and hearing a bird, then going out to the pool and him commenting on the same bird. So we located it and looked it up – I’ve heard it all my life and never knew that it was a flicker. Now flicker has been the bird of this winter. I’ve never seen or heard so many. Their white scuts bouncing in the trees outside the bedroom, around the hot tub and along Reed Road as I drive. And suddenly I realized that Dad has been with me all winter. Is some part of himself sending his love to me in the only way it knows how? The ties that bind him (and make him not really even want to be touched) keep him from speaking but his spirit has been flying to encourage me during this winter of concentrated art work. “Encourage” being all about le Coeur – the heart.