Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Notes on Picasso

This poem I wrote in responce to Picasso's famous depiction of the bombing of Guernica. Unable to write only of destruction without putting it into a context, I paired the painting with another of Picasso's; the Blue Nude, a painting from his earlier, blue phase. The links made themselves clear to me, the contrast of the beautiful crouching woman of the Bluenude and the grotesque deformed crouchinh woman in Guernica. To my mind they were the same woman and the poem follows her through her relationship with Picasso, who ends up using her.

There are a great many references in the poem to Picasso's process of painting, for example the 'Ruby tear of blood' refers to the fact that originally Picasso painted a red tear on the cheek of the crouching woman in Guernica. But he painted over it, deciding that black and white was more striking.

For me, the message of the poem was the irony that scholars have spent hours trying to find meaning in the painting, while their efforts to save real lives are non-existant.

Blue Nude and Guernica

Blue nude

I am the woman weeping without tears.

I wore the forest walk for you,
The petals you drew across my lips
Die now as you tread them
Out of pink beneath your hoofed feet.

I wore the ocean’s jewels for you,
The pearls you softened into silk beneath your brush.
But your words spilled on them
Tawny ink spreading into rust.

So I wore grey for you,
The wind’s hair woven into cloth
That kept me cold.
But that you tore in two
When you saw that beauty groweth old.

When I wore black for you
You bought me a ruby tear of blood
But stole it back.
For tears are a gift I cannot have.


You handed me an infant made of ears,
And bid me mourn him to a sky of squares.
My hands you tied with rope as sharp as lines
Until they swelled to white.

You showered me in the glow of light-bulbs
Each would aim, click
break and split to shards
That cut my back.
Ribbons through the canvas painted blue
Now black with bruise,
And torn to flesh
With blunt and broken fingernails.

For it’s there you dig to find what you are seeking,
Peel back the skin and find your precious meaning,
But did you dig for me, or listen for my breathing?
Or is it easier to strip me into art
And then consider
I am sixteen thousand people
Robbed of years.

I am the weeping woman without tears