Bio Note: I was born and raised in Portsmouth, Virginia, and graduated from the University of Virginia in the first class admitting women. Since moving to Kansas City in 1982, I’ve tried to pretend the ocean is just over the next hill. So take that 2020! I know how to crawl away from your disturbing reality into the world of books, art, music, and kindness until you come to your senses.
At the Movies with Monet
(I, Claude Monet at the Tivoli) Naturally, we go to an art house. Monet remembers the first movies by the Lumière brothers. I assure him his art will be shown in full color. It’s almost dark, nearly quiet fifteen minutes before the show. Few couples chat, preferring to sit side-by-side staring at their private mini-screens. No one notices Monet. He jiggles my seat, nervous without a smoke. Mon dieu! he says. Relax, you’ll be great, I promise. Pffew! he adds. I despise the opinions of the press and the so-called critics. I tell him he coined the motto of our times. A loud ringtone at the end of our aisle makes him jump. Sacré bleu! he explodes. When a woman’s voice over speaker phone tells us she’s had an upsetting day, Claude leaps to his feet. I tug hard on his famous tweed jacket, make him sit. We’re both relieved when Bergman’s Death appears on screen in his black cloak, warning us to turn off cell phones. A few minutes into the film, Claude pulls out his handkerchief. It’s him, all him in his own words, voiced by an actor who gradually shifts his voice to the crackle of an old man. I don’t sound that old, Claude grumbles. First we see the caricatures he was selling at age fifteen when he met Boudin. He watched the well-known painter at work, capturing the dazzling sunlight on women with parasols and frothy dresses enjoying a day at the beach. Magnifique, Claude whispers. Remembering the man who inspired him to paint outdoors for the rest of his life, he wipes his eyes.
Originally published in The Ekphrastic Review.
Trees Stand Watching
I glance out the second-story window, checking autumn’s progress. Just patches of red and gold, but what’s this? Spring? A vine cascades over the back fence, laden with pale pink saucers as large as magnolia blossoms. I stare as the blooms stretch toward me. A strange sound, like sucking through a straw. Two flowers peer in my window. Not pink, but pale flesh pricked with carmen. Now the lawn disappears under drifts of blush, the sickly smell of carrion. I rush downstairs, can’t see out windows – run to the door. It won’t budge. Call 911. All lines busy. After ten minutes, a dispatcher answers, Sorry, Ma’am. All patrol cars stopped dead — I imagine vines binding their axles, smothering their windshields. We’re all trapped, too.
Because I Misread “Cow” for “Crow”
“Black cows wheeling overhead” make me wonder why? Returning to the constellation Taurus? Fed up with the same patch of pasture? Too bad those cows don’t have lanterns to flit about with the fireflies. I should stop staring up with my mouth open. Still, I can’t resist pondering why? and even why not? Such mysteries are common, thanks to Myopia, my muse.
©2020 Alarie Tennille
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