for some reason shes dipped a paintbrush in ink, taking a thick oxhair brush and soaking it with a cheap replacement for india. you see, she says as she drags the brush across an enormous piece of banner paper, this is art.
no its not!, you want to scream at her, because something in you is rebelling against this scarring of a clean white sheet, at this waste of ink and time. your fingers ache to rescue her brush.
the curve of her lip when she smiles at you is another name for irony: you know she isnt happy with you and the smile is a lie. she keeps smiling, though, maintaining the mask as she makes a dark slash across a white corner. your hands jerk, unconsciously.
art isnt only pictures, she tells you, beaming at you pleasantly. to you it looks like the leer of a barbarian. the falling ink makes round black dots on the edges of the paper, inappropriately perfect. art is expression of emotion. any expression. she sounds almost as if she believes it.
for a moment you want to break her, want savagely to shake her shoulders and force her to drop the brush. her contempt for art is almost painful, almost sacrilege. you double over when she paints a sloppy circle, more oblong than round.
she finishes her loop and looks up, staring at you with a sardonic half-smile as if she knew your every thought. a moment ago you were tense with a half-formed idea of fury, and now your arms are shaking.
look, she says, standing up, her voice soft as a caress or a snowfall. she puts the brush down reverently, as if it were something precious.
is what she painted, the lines of it very black, harsh against the white. abruptly you are seized by a need to shred it, to tear it to pieces and then burn it. you have a sudden craving for the smell of smoke.
but she puts her arms around you, gently, and she reaches on tiptoes to whisper look again. her hand on your back gives you strength to see
that there is grace in the cross of her t
beauty in the curve of the u
something gorgeous in the slant of the r
and for a moment you are transfixed, because somehow the letters are beautiful.
you cannot see her but her voice is saying almost, and you do not understand. almost, she says again. beyond the writing, beyond the paper and the paint. think about words and poetry and bedtime stories
you think incongruously of sunsets, and of ocean water. rose, you think, and sapphire. turquoise and cyan, gold. fire and breeze and salt. warmth
you are conscious suddenly of her body behind yours and of her hands. you try to put words to the feeling of her fingers and fail. this is poetry, you think, dimly at first and then clearly, as if through glass. there is some sort of glory in this kind of speechlessness.
dont you see? literature is art, she says to you and only you. you are humbled, because no one else is hearing these sacred words, and because you are hearing them you become sacred as well. writing is not arts plainer sister, she whispers, her voice quieter with every word until her voice is a mere breath, like the personification of truth. writers are artists too.