Posts Tagged ‘painting’

Am I the woman, artificially still, arranged as if in sleep,

or death? Am I the dog, nestled beside her, its jaw tense,

dreaming, ready to snarl or bite? Am I the paint, deep

and patchy, ridged  brushstrokes blowing from edge

to edge? Or am I the canvas, flat, transparent, and square?

Am I the navy of her dress, her pale buttery skin, the grayish-

pink of the dog’s vulnerable belly? Am I the paint brush, the hair

Of rabbit, badger, or horse? Am I the shadow beneath the weight

of her arm, casually shielding her eyes, or is her pose a defense

against the artist’s gaze? I’m the suggestion of a wall, the blank

bedsheet, the too white bed, the dog’s mottled fur, the sense

the world is one indecipherable scene and art makes it think.

What, exactly, is it the subject of this painting? That which we see:

woman, dog, paint? Or the space between the painting and me?

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If the brushstroke embodies representation,

let this drop of paint be the thin membrane

between being and seeing. Let the exact gray

of my eyes become nothing more than gauze

through which I see the canvas, darkly. She

said show me the exact yellow of light,

and I said, I don’t paint that shit. I said

every canvas is a self-portrait, every

drop of paint is a whiff of the world

that can’t be unmade. I am painting

the world in my image, one giant white

mistake at a time. I said, stand back.

Look at this.

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I paint self-portraits because I am so often alone.

                                                                                                                        Frida Kahlo

 In my self-portrait, I want to be truly alone,

 me with me, holding hands with myself,

both my hearts exposed. I want to show

the self who loves and is the loved, and the self

who wants to cut out hearts with a pair

of scissors. The one who wears casual blue,

an old, brown skirt, she doesn’t care;

the other  who wears a wedding dress, with a too

tight collar, strangled. I don’t want that. I

want what I want:  the self, exposed, the shimmer

of two gray storm clouds, my hand holding my

very own hand. I want the blank canvas and the mirror.

I want to show everyone the me I thought I saw,

the self-portrait as judgment: scathing and raw.

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