Blue on Blue Room (1901)

by Laurie Byro
Desert Moon Review
Honorable Mention, October 2015
Judged by Barbara Siegel Carlson

Now that I have hidden you beneath prying
eyes, old friend, you continue to watch us through

cataracts, while I eliminate all traces of you.
People hidden inside fake walls have no advantage

to our scheme. One hundred years later, you won’t escape
their pounce. A woman makes a fine distraction,

so it’s been my experience. She soothes
her body with sponge, while your eyes weep

through the canvas, lurking to the very end. Still
you bored me with your vulgar moustache. She, the only

one of any merit, little lost raven, refused to shave
hers off. Alas the deep room smolders turquoise,

it’s easy to track this scent. A coil of smoke hisses
as the paint parts, frankincense legs bruised

by plum-blush. She bends, though we know, she no longer
breathes the grey decay of air these years past. Vaporous

beard, the one I choose to brush over, ah, a voyeur
like me. Our tragic flaw, scrutiny: impossible blue-white sin.

A fascinating finely layered monologue whereby the painter addresses the portrait he has attempted to paint over to hide but can’t completely. Words like prying, fake, lurking, hisses, breathes create tension between the complex and growing control the artist wishes to place on the painting and the figure underneath that persists. I admire the subtle ironic tones and richly textured language that blur the distinction between the painter and the painted in their scrutiny. In the end the final image of sin as both impossible and ‘blue-white’ is ambiguous and paradoxical. --Barbara Siegel Carlson