Monday, November 28, 2016

A different shade of parody

Before and After
with a nod to Robert Hass
    Art Therapy

I woke hungry from the surgery. After an hour, they gave me ice chips. It wasn't enough. My breasts were gone. The scars—twin brushstrokes splashed across my skin. Akiko saw my chest and flinched away. The breasts she drank from. Snapped string. Cracked bridge. No one would hold my body like an instrument again. It was a year before I could return to Yaddo. Bees in the rock garden, the fabulous roses. The young and beautiful at play. I stayed in my room and dug brush into canvas. Ate early. Bowls of fruit. One morning, a freckled young man across from me at breakfast. Pale blue eyes. Striped shirt, half unbuttoned, creamy tee below. He smiled. In my room, I painted the V of his chest, concealed and unconcealed. We ate together that night. He played the cello for me, the belly leaning against his thighs. When our eyes met, I felt alive. In the morning, I called my daughter. Told her I had met someone. "But I have to tell him," I whispered, my finger tracing the lines that slept beneath my collarbone like closed eyes, then plunging to my navel like his rose and sunshine Oxford shirt.

* * *

    Flight of the Bumblebee
When he said "I'm sorry. I don't think I could," I went into my room and punched the pillow. Hard to sleep that night. Blamed him for being shallow. Kicked myself for that awkward revelation. Before dawn, I got up and swept the room. Canvas tacks. Dead bees. Enough to fill my blue bowl. I left it on his porch, crowned with rose petals. Not sure what I meant by it. Couldn't paint all day. Threw my brush in the corner. Went to bed at nine o'clock.

I woke to strange music. Dark. I blinked myself awake. Cello. Coming from outside my room. Quick notes. Cello. "Flight of the Bumblebee?" Oh God, it's him! What is he doing? I threw the window open, leaned out. He was sitting on a wooden stool, the cello between his knees. He stopped playing, leaned the cello on the chair, walked to the window. For a long moment we just looked at each other. Then he raised his arms and leaned into me, his head against the plain of my chest, listening to the surprising music of my heart.

by Tracy Mishkin
in volume 5 issue 1

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