Secret Third Thing
Some mornings the sky is an impressionist painting steeped in violaceous streaks of timorous soft light. I pull over to the shoulder to snap a picture with my phone but the result never quite captures. A ginned up pick up truck veers too close and honks. By the time I get to work the colors have dissolved into the yellow orange haze. The sun continues to rise. The day arrives. Everything once again is gray or black or white. And all the others. The other colors. The ones I don’t care about anymore. A painting is an artifact of loss. Museums compendiums of everything dear and departed.If I come upon a dead bonfire in the forest I kick at the ashes until I get a glow. A girl once intoned —we swim through wisps of spiraling smoke. She didn’t realize I was the smoke. Duh, the only one here not choking. I can make a fire from the coldest rock. The secret is to slash it against your shin. From memory alone the artists move their brushes across the canvas. Even Monet with his little travel kits. Nothing creative is ever anything new. Just something that everyone else has missed. Bridges and water lilies. Sunrises in places where nobody goes to visit. Whoever’s there has to be there. They can’t be late for work. The lawn crew is running leaf blowers at 7am again. They’d all rather just roll over and go back to sleep. Even the haystacks are dreams. Every painting is a picture of something now gone. Think of it like that. A place you once saw or visited. Maybe a flash of a purple dress in the corner of your eye. All the places that can only be found without maps. The mapless kingdoms, as I rather unimaginatively refer to them. These are the only true places. All else is imagination, or even worse, your actual honest to god life. Imagination synonymizes with real life. That’s the last thing they teach you. Everything you’re conjuring right now is all there is. They never tell you about the secret third thing. The bastards. She whispers— a memory is the never to be seen again thing that only YOU ever saw. To paint is to remember something that once was. To love is to love someone who’s always leaving you. In the fading evening light Monet was just painting (haystacks). Before the dawn burns away its purple sashes I was just loving (you).