Every window was lit, to lurid effect, as if the interior of the structure might be on fire.
—Joan Didion, on the paintings of Thomas Kinkade
With the right sponge and brush, you could
paint these walls to look like marble. In the two-story
foyer, the previous owner left a giant painting
of southwestern pots. You could float in one
across the ocean. It’s signed with the fabricated
American name Chinese factory workers
were instructed to scribble in the corner. You still need
to use up your old Thomas Kinkade–print checks.
On them it’s always dusk or dawn. As in high-end
real-estate photos, the interior lights are always
on. Oh, how you once hung Monet posters
in golden plastic frames you had to snap together.
Too late: The corners were already ripped through
with thumbtack holes. Of course you’d rather
be walking by a sun-dappled bank. One in twenty
Americans owns a Kinkade print. All four
of his children have the same middle name.
Always there’s a path winding through
some snow. You count delivery trucks
driving cargo up and down your block. There’s no
vanishing point. Shiny cars are swallowed
by large garages. You’ve yet to see a neighbor.
The porticos are grand, like entrances to malls,
but the columns suggest you live inside a bank.
At night, light blazes through windows of every
conceivable shape. You hadn’t realized the walls
are paper-thin. You open and close the checkbook.
Like prints, the checks are numbered
in one corner. Always the viewpoint is stalled
outside an idyllic house. Could this
insistence of pastel be a joke? A fairy tale
missing the part where the children
are lured inside? Painter of Light
is trademarked. Kinkade stole the title
from Turner, whose light brushstroked
over bodies struggling in choppy water.
The slave ship. Implausibly floating
on the surface, the victim’s iron-cable chains.
His sunset is a blaze. Amazon
sells this print on a shower curtain,
a light switch plate. There are no people
in Kinkades. Just thatched cabins, docile
creeks, a curl of chimney smoke. Where
is thy market now? With one little flick,
after darkness falls, it’s like you set
the whole house aflame.