The Painter

Meg. Meg. Everything was about Meg.
A famous surrealist painter used her as
inspiration for a piece about solitude.

For her nose, he painted a cherry orchard;
her left cheek was a hive of wild geese.

Meg loved the attention. Every day at noon,
she would come to his studio and sit for the day.

“No makeup tomorrow please,” he would say,
“I will be painting your eyes. And when I start
on the midnight orchestra of your body,
no clothes please.”

On the twelfth day of her right leg,
the canvas, a tortured sea of blackbirds;
she cried watching him. “Stop it!” he yelled.
It’s hard enough already.”

“But it doesn’t have to be this way,” she said.

During the last week with her back turned,
he traced the curve of her spine in the air,
mixed seventeen colors on his palette
including Absolute Zero, Electric Ultramarine,
African Violet, Boysenberry and Dust Storm.

He painted an African hut between T4 and T5,
a herd of charging Wildebeest on the southern
border of L2. Then came the trees. White Ash,
Sugar Maple, Black Walnut, Black Birch, Black Ash.
Butternut, Eastern Hemlock, Sassafras, Black Cherry,
Black Willow, Sycamore, Scarlet Oak, Balsam Fir.

He left her arms for last. Her arms. Not clocks,
not a train, no men in suits, no trees, no birds.
A painting of a woman’s arms. So clear and certain.

“Put the brush down,” said the arms;
hands pressed against his bruised skin.
Fingers interlocking with his. “I am here,”
said the arms, “I have always been here.”

First published in Forklift, Ohio Issue #33 (Fall 2016)