Picasso knows

This is the story I want to tell you about Picasso: light, natural as straw, through the east window, rays and dust. He squeezes long worms of paint, criss-crossing a ceramic plate. Hovers the palette knife over a canvas that smells of vinegar. Pauses. Presses and wipes, presses, wipes, layer after layer, cordons off sections of color. Ocher against violet, cream, black, cream. Eggnog. Faster he works, he is racing the light, the dust, he adds, always with a knife, never a brush, scrapes small squares, strokes and smoothes. I see him as his hands turn mustard, lilac arcs his left eyebrow. His eyes rabid as the blocks take shape; you can discern a figure, a nude, now two, three, they overlap, become transparent, reflect each other’s light. Picasso cannot slow down, his hands are a camera lens, flickering, fluttering, clicking, never stopping. Late afternoon, he steps back. He is hunched over, but one arm is raised, palette knife in hand, a conductor’s flourish. He sing-crys, “No, it is wrong, wrong, wrong, all wrong.” Takes the knife and scrapes, scrapes and then glazes, until the entire canvas is once again blank. I might have gotten it wrong. This might have been my story, after all.

Lisa Hickey

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