After ‘The Red Studio’, a painting
by Henri Matisse
You painted the studio a radiant scarlet
a luminous sunset
spreading joy with increasing abandonment.
The glass is empty, but not your plate.
Absorbed in your creations, I wait
thinking you will walk in any moment
share secret stories of paintings on
Uncovering the blue and yellow beneath
I note the walls were white,
you changed the colours until they
Your signature is everywhere,
the way you fit everything to make
a whole –
woman and man, earth and sky,
tree like a human body,
human body like a cathedral,
studio like a private universe.
The green blue light of the window
intensifies the interior where Time
is suspended like the grandfather clock
whose face has no hands –
the fathomless mirror reflects no illusions.
An open box of crayons offers me paradise
contained in this world within worlds
teaching me how to lose and find myself
There is someone in the mirror smiling
the image is mine, but who is that
I’m unrecognisable dressed like a harlequin.
I scan a photograph of me looking in
incarnations of the same self – the
the harlequin in the photo, and me
– I am many.
The moment I become the person I want
I am somebody else. I ask myself who
when I say I am, I want,
I ask all the people who know me,
even my enemies, my best friends, about
Opinions vary widely –
I am different things to different people.
I cannot recognise myself in these
representations of me –
The images keeps changing, shape shifting,
will not stay in place, dispersing
like clouds in the sky, dissolving
I become many things to many people,
my portrait belongs to others, it is
no longer mine.
I steer skilfully through the myriad
of shattered images, ever changing
Seen through the eyes of strangers
even time cannot merge my many selves.