Dead a dozen years, Mr. Bob Ross, you live on in the TV reruns, permed hair like a bee swarm, big hands, big smile, a kindergarten-teacher voice. Show us again that little tree you say likes it right there by the moonlit path and the moon you tell us is just real happy right next to the mountain. Hundreds of thousands of us have waited to watch you at your easel, holding your magic brushes—the fan brush for clouds, the fitch for rocky peaks. Come back, keep coming back, Bob Ross. We need to know that everything is happy where it is, and that we too might put it there.It’s odd how one feels that these childhood enthusiasms were somehow private, but Kooser’s reminder the the thousands who were introduced to art through television personalities like Ross and Gnagy reminds us that the world is full of people with similar secret lives. In fact, Seferis speaks to this point in the third of his Secret Poems, “Summer Solstice” (which for us happened just yesterday), from the Keeley/Sherrard Collected Poems:
Everyone sees visions, but no one admits to it; they continue to live thinking they’re alone.For Kooser, for Seferis, and for most poets (I think), breaking through that solitude to touch on shared visions is poetry’s highest purpose.