PAINTING THE FENCE / David Romtvedt I was going to say I thought of that monk again, the one burning himself to death in Saigon. But the truth is I did not think of him, I saw him. The monk is dead but the smallest thing brings him home. I am painting the fence beside the garden. First I scrape and land in the dirt. Then I spread the new paint on the raw boards. Drops of oU-based primer mottle the leaves of lettuce at my feet. Finished, I walk to the garage and unscrew the lid to the gasoUne I use as paint thinner. The odor fiUs my nose. As if a burning match had been thrown into my open mouth, I gulp it down and choke. I cough again and again, hacking, trying to pull up whatever is blocking my breath. Here is the monk, pounding me on the back, assuring me TU be fine, this is my grandest moment, wrapped in smoke, my hands waving flames as tears roU down my face. the old paint away. Huge flakes faU from the boards The Missouri Review · 269 WELCOME / David Romtvedt Strangers do not wish
The Missouri Review – University of Missouri
Published: Oct 5, 1993
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