Shanta Acharya
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 paintings.
Uncovering the blue and yellow beneath the red,
I note the walls were white,
you changed the colours until they felt right.
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 in art

Shanta Acharya
There is someone in the mirror smiling at me,
the image is mine, but who is that person?
I’m unrecognisable dressed like a harlequin.
I scan a photograph of me looking in the mirror,
incarnations of the same self – the mirror’s reflection,
the harlequin in the photo, and me – I am many.
The moment I become the person I want to be
I am somebody else. I ask myself who am I
when I say I am, I want, I believe?
I ask all the people who know me,
even my enemies, my best friends, about this I.
Opinions vary widely –
I am different things to different people.
I cannot recognise myself in these myriad
representations of me –
The images keeps changing, shape shifting,
will not stay in place, dispersing
like clouds in the sky, dissolving like dreams.
I become many things to many people,
my portrait belongs to others, it is no longer mine.
I steer skilfully through the myriad pieces
of shattered images, ever changing self-portraits.
Seen through the eyes of strangers –
even time cannot merge my many selves.