The Odalisque

The odalisque sits staring off into the now.  Completely comfortable in her body, belly, thighs, and all.  She has come to terms with it and embraced her physical self.   

The artist is in love with color and is not concerned with flattering her, though she is gorgeous.  She is just what I need as a muse – a woman at ease in her skin, able to tell her story, and willing to do so to anyone who will listen or to remain silent – according to the whims of her audience. 

People talk of their muse as if a magical creature that drops art in their laps fully formed and ready to go.  No.  The muse is the inspiration for the art – the one who whispers in your ear….the stray thought that ties the piece together.   

Matisse’s model for the Odalisque series was Henriette Darricarrère.  She too was a painter.  She gives the appearance of complete comfort and rest while holding her poses – for ten hours at a time.  Art is not necessarily easy.   

The blue and white porcelain pot with the plant echoes the blue and white porcelain in the room I am in as I write this.  

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Wicked Mean Blues Air Guitar

I play a wicked mean blues air guitar.  Usually after one drink too many.  I almost always say upon such occasions, “I could do it if I just knew how.”  And I could.  I really could.  I’m convinced of it.  So convinced of it, Santa asked me what I wanted one year and I said, “A guitar.”

Santa brought me a whole kit.  Case, stand, picks, tuners, Guitar for Dummies, and other assorted accessories. 

I couldn’t tune the damn thing.  Tried and tried.  I have a good ear, but I can’t figure out how to get the strings to the tension required.  I turn the little screws things this way and that to no avail.  I use the electronic tuner.  I don’t think I’m doing it right. 

In desperation, I cleaned my house and invited a musician friend and his wife to dinner.  Told him he not only had to sing for his supper, he had to tune my guitar. 

He did.  He declared it not bad for a cheapie. 

After they left, I tried some chords.  Damn it’s hard.  My old hands may be too arthritic to learn new muscle movements. 

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When all it took was a cupcake. . .

Joy. 

Bliss.

Ecstasy.

What does it take to feel those.  They came naturally when I was younger, but not so much now.  Have I seen too much?  Done too much?  Am I jaded?

There are still some experiences guaranteed to bring it on. Bliss is found in the first warm day in the garden, muddy hands, muddy knees, crystalline blue skies, and the soft air of an Appalachian spring. 

Joy.  To be joyous may require a light heart.  Perhaps I have too many worries for joy.  But no, my grandson brought me joy.  Holding him, time stopped and it was just me and Julien.  Time stopped.  The moment.

And Ecstasy…the birth of my son.  Perhaps the only time of my life that I was truly ecstatic.  It’s a state of being that suffuses the whole body and the whole mind.  Nothing else in that moment but the sensation of unfettered happiness at the cellular level.  The moment stretching on and on.

But remember when something simple could provoke these states?  Perhaps they are side effects of youth – states of being easy to slide into before the world beat us down.

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Mourning Doves

What stage of grief is it when mourning doves are cooing and the soft morning air carries the sound to me in my bed. That sound. What stage of grief is that sound?

Photo by Stefan Gogov on Unsplash

When I was twelve, my mom sent me to the store for lettuce. I can’t remember why, but I didn’t ride my bike. It was six blocks. And very hot. The heat surprised me. It was crystal clear and not humid, but the heat was oppressive. It lay on my body like a boulder. I pretended I was trekking through the desert in search of the Holy Grail. In my mind, so very fertile in those days, I saw myself on my knees croaking, “Water, water.” It was so hot.

I bought the head of lettuce and the bag boy put it in a full-size, brown paper bag. The sweat of my hands left large blotches on the paper. It seemed much too large. He embarrassed me when he said, “Can I carry that to your car, ma’am?” He did it just to be mean. I flushed, and he and the cashier laughed. I knew them both from the school bus – they were two of the high school kids that picked on the rest of us.

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