By Erin Bidlake
sunday ritual on pbs: the joy of bob ross. midge, arthritic legs swung over the arm of her lazy-boy, i sat at her elbow. we lived for this: bob ross creating order in the world between newcasts, we watched his hands tap and brush, ten inch afro, greying. happy valley, happy pine. he was a hero, always. no sunset without golden rays, no lakefront without tongue lapping waves. with bob ross in charge the world sang the womb of eden, no false strokes, we were heaven bound. 5 pm, my parents boiled potatoes in the next room, midge and i in paradise, his sweet-elm voice ran like sap to the pail
four years, three time zones, midge’s funeral later
(i remember, holding andrew’s hand, did we not debate the relationship of cucumber to squash? did we not argue front pew, centre, the membership of tomatoes? the choir sang danny boy. my father, a teacher always, drew us to the vine. please note: my family is a mess of gardens, i have been called weed–)
i am buzzing on store-bought coffee, skim milk the channels and bob ross has called me home. over cable i create my own version of existentialism. it is called: bob ross
he says, let’s put some green in here let’s put some red, let’s put a bush, this happy tree. he says, this is our world, we’re boss, and then there was ochre.
i want to be canvas, stretch myself under him, be made perfect.
thirty seconds left, bob ross has added silver birch, he clucks, this fella needs a friend, and one more birch put front and centre. i am crying, eyes blur his gentle hands. bob ross, marry me, bring your brushes, greying afro, i want your fingers to graze over strung breasts, i have never