Dad, I’ve always wanted to
ask you what you really meant with your portrait of mom.
When I look at the picture,
I can hardly recognize her,
and only because you told me,
I know that it depicts mom as quite young.
I do not understand why you painted her
like a keen girl who seems not feel at home in the world.
Her features are unclear and not particularly feminine.
She almost disappears in the yellow green wallpaper,
you have painted around her.
Most of all, the picture shows the power you’ve had over her:
Her uncertainty about your strict brush.
Now the picture hangs in your bedroom
because mom still has mixed feelings about it.
Officially because it does not belong
to the best part of your work.
And the reason is that the spectator can clearly see
that you had trouble painting the bare hand
mom lifts up to her face,
Maybe to hide a little.
The hand, you have even told me,
was not easy to paint
because it constantly became too big for you.
When I think about it,
the hand is the most realistic part of the picture.
The rest of the picture I do not understand. I cannot recall
that mom ever had such a facial expression
as she has in the picture. You must have seen something,
I have never seen.
Dad, I’ve always been afraid
that you painted the picture badly on purpose.
My biggest fear is that you really
saw her in that way
that this was your truthful image of her.