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Friday, March 29, 2013

A Different Blue

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“Tell me what you see when you look at this sculpture,” Wilson asked after a while, his eyes roving down the sensual lines of the stained mahogany.  His hand traced the contours reverently.
          I had whittled away the heaviness from the branches, creating hollows and sinews and shaping the suggestion of lovers wrapped around each other while still maintaining the natural innocence and simplicity of the merging branches. The branches were Mountain Mahogany, the wood a natural reddish brown.  I'd rubbed several applications of black stain into one branch, and it gleamed like a black jungle cat, the golden red tones melding with the dark stain so the black looked like it was silhouetted in sunlight.  I applied no stain to the other branch. I had simply buffed and glossed the golden red wood until it was glowing like amber.  The effect was that the two limbs in the sculpture appeared to be different kinds of wood, branches from two different trees. The result was a statement all its own.
            I looked away.  I felt hot and angry and my chest was tight with a feeling Wilson always seemed to stir in me.
          “I'd rather not.”
          “Why?” Wilson sounded genuinely confused by my refusal, since I was usually eager to discuss my carvings with him. 
          “Why do you want my explanation?  What do you see when you look at them?” I said crossly.  Wilson withdrew his hand from the sculpture and grabbed my braid where it hung over my shoulder.  He tugged it gently, wrapping it around his hand as he did.
          “What's wrong?”
          “Nothing's wrong.  I'm preoccupied,” I protested.  “And my art is not about what I see.  It's about what I feel.  And right now I don't really want to discuss what I feel.”  I tried to pull my hair free from his hand, but he wound it tighter, pulling me toward him.
           “I see limbs, and love, and lust,” Wilson stated flatly.  I stopped resisting, and my eyes rose to his.  Wilson's eyes were wide and frank but his jaw was clenched as if he knew he was crossing that invisible line he'd drawn for himself.
          “I'm not surprised you see those things,” I said softly.
          “Why?” His eyes were intense, and I was suddenly furious.  I was in love with Wilson, no doubt about it, but I would not be toyed with, and I sure as hell wasn't going to play kissy face ten minutes after Pamela left.
          “You've just spent the evening with Pamela.” I reminded him sweetly.  “She is a beautiful woman.”
          Wilson's eyes flashed, and he dropped my braid, turning back toward the sculpture.  I could tell he was mentally counting to ten.  If I made him angry, it was his own fault.  What did he think I was going to do, wrap myself around him after he'd ignored me off and on for months?  I wasn't that girl. But maybe he thought I was.  I took several deep breaths and ignored the tension that simmered between us.  It was thick enough to slice and serve with a big dollop of denial.  He took several steps, his hands fisted in his hair, putting some distance between us.
          I stood my ground, waiting for him to make the next move.  I had no idea what he was doing here.  And he didn't seem to know either.  When he looked at me again his mouth was set in a grim line, and his eyes held a note of pleading, as if he needed to convince me of something. 
          “You said your art is about what you feel, not what you see.  I told you what I see.  Now you tell me what you feel,” he demanded.
          “What are we talking about Wilson?” I shot back.  I walked toward him, hands shoved in my pockets.  “Are we talking about the sculpture?”  He watched me as I approached, but I didn't stop until our toes were almost touching. 
          “If we're talking about the sculpture, fine.  I see desire and belonging and love without space.”  I said the words like I was a guide at an art museum, putting emphasis on the word space.  “What do I feel?  Well, that's easy.  I've been at work all day. I'm tired, Wilson.  And I'm hungry.  And I don't like Pamela.  There.  That's what I feel.  How about you?”
          Wilson looked at me like he wanted to shake me until my teeth rattled.  Then he just shook his head and walked to the door.  “I'm sorry I asked, Blue,” he sighed.  He sounded weary and resigned, like one of those TV dads, just trying to tolerate his teen-aged daughter.  “Goodnight, Blue.”
          I was too confused and befuddled to even respond.  He walked out of my apartment without another word.

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