I saw a Picasso painting and it fucked me up
because it wasn’t oil on canvas, it was a mirror.
Her pain was contagious, her skin sickly and diseased, all yellow and green;
her hair in blue and purple streaks, matted, heavy, left unwashed for weeks.
She was stifling her screams, catching her tears in a tissue made of broken glass,
muffling sobs with icy crystal shards / alone / in pain / insane, confined
within the edges of a sixty-by-forty-nine frame. Those eyes held stories
of the lives of every person she’d ever known yet betrayed no life of their own.
Black holes filled, brimming with untold horror, mascara’d eyelashes
holding back the weight of a thousand lies, strained lids a pathetic barrier
between the tsunami of terror that dwells within her and the face that she wears
for the world; but it will not hold, it will not hold, the wave breaks the boundary,
spewing sickness and sadness, and badness riots down her cubed cheeks,
into a handful of glass. The tears fall and fall and her lover only watches on,
putting her on show, a beautiful and tragic sight to behold, not one to be reassured,
not one to be consoled (he studied her pain because he wouldn’t face his own,
just as you study mine because you dare not face yours). She and I, we are the same:
a sight to be eyeballed, judged by all, a suffering machine, a perfect exhibition
of devastation / destruction / depression, so pretty to you, so sad. I immediately
recognised myself as the subject of the portrait although I know that you’d say,
“No, that’s not you, not at all,” but I’m so certain that it is me, I am so certain.
How did Pablo know me so well, so many years before I was born? It seems
that the only people who ever truly knew me are two dead men who found beauty
in misery / the ugly / the forlorn. And here I am: left behind with this jagged heart
that rides on tidal waves of grief, look at me, wandering around empty galleries,
choking on memories, wiping away my tears with shards of broken glass:
I am somebody / nobody / everybody’s suffering
machine, an accidental spectacle, dying to die.
Originally published by Full House Literary in their ‘Featured Creators’ section here.