I watch my mother painting birdhouses. These are not the simple, made in your garage or woodshop variety. They come to her five and six at a time, primed white with copper roofs. She sits in our living room, a palette beside her, a blank birdhouse balanced on her knees.
The background is first, a wide brushed blue-green and while it dries she sings and does the next. Her voice is sweet, something that I try to mimic when I am in the bathroom alone. A rainbow of craft paint glistens; coral, velvet green, pink, and sunny yellow. I watch as beneath the brush a flower seller's stall appears, a woman with a wide brimmed hat sitting by the hole for the birds to come and go.
My mother paints them for the tourists. They're sold in boutique shops in Charleston, in little antique stores in Goose Creek. Her hand is swift, sure, unwavering as vibrant color is applied.
When she is finished they sit drying in a row, slightly different, eerily the similar.