Woman With a Hat (1905)

by Laurie Byro
Desert Moon Review
First Place, November 2015
Judged by Barbara Siegel Carlson

Fauves, I am not what you wanted. When you ogled me
wearing the sea over my head, I went silent on the canvas.
Smell me, the sweet iodine of high tide, the awkward

swirls of sea-fur and ocean kelp, drying in the sun. I am
the crooked-paste of turpentine and oil gone bad.
You want to think I am not the salt-spray on the pursed

lips of Odysseus as he struggled lashed to the mast.
He gurgled his envious sea chanteys wanting to be home.
I started as a garden, became the ocean. It was he who

silenced the sirens and not the song that silenced the sea.
Envy is a wicked man’s game. My husband goes
back and forth in love and hate for his rival. He paints

mountains in the brim over my head, waterfalls, the
blue earth’s breath. The tusks and scales are hidden
from the eye. They are there, all the same, the pounce

of a tufted paw. It’s all inside the forest of the brain, eye-lashed,
captured: minds to the mast. They call the room where
his paintings hang a cage. But if you release us through

these bars you will notice how our skin leaves a faint
buttery talc. We are salt swirled, the callus on a conch. We are
forgotten tears drying, freckles on the face of a tiger lily.

The voice of the woman in the painting draws the reader into her depth of her vision through its powerful and engaging language. How the artist tries to capture the animal soul the woman as subject possesses that is ‘hidden from the eye’. The images, surreal at times, are both sensuous and sharp, drawing from myth and revealing another reality, leaving us transfixed and transformed. A masterful work. --Barbara Siegel Carlson