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Leah Stewart

Grand Prize 2007 Novice Christian Poetry Contest $500

About this Christian Poet:
Leah Stewart is a poetess and writer living in Rochester, N.Y. She spends little if any time away from the written word; in addition to her own writing, she takes on freelance proofreading/editing work.

This poem was written about the author's grandfather, a strong shaping influence on her faith. While quiet, he was also assured, and taught the lessons of looking to faith for comfort and solace. His dream had always been to be the Great American Artist but, growing up in the Great Depression, his family had no money for lessons and he was entirely self-taught.

I have more of his paintings than Rockwell's

My grandfather could stare for hours at every painting
by Rockwell. He wanted to be
the Great American Artist, but the
Great American Dust
                                       bowled over his lessons,
                                       made him cough

up—time instead of money for lessons.
He taught himself
to daub half-smiles across his face
weathered like canvas.

In turn, I painted my grandfather's house.
It needed to be sold; we knew
he wouldn't live there
                             always.

                                              Still,
we were a Rockwell scene once;
he (not Rockwell) and I read in the living room.
His words came from on high;
my pose at his feet
       bookended. He finished his chapter.

He taught me to scream and cry the Psalms
—a place for comfort just like the living room—
and he toned my faith, shaded
in all-block lettering. His note:
I prayed for you when awake, which was often.

But he never could draw people; the proportions
weren't quite right. He marked one sketch
with my name anyway and a tentative,
'at age 12, maybe'. I was seven, or maybe
I think every year of my childhood was seven
and I marveled at the great artist
as I wondered what he saw
that made me so much more than I was.

Copyright ©2007 by Leah Stewart