Beginnings & Endings

Chapter 9

linda as mary close square copy 25

                                                                       

 A Songbird on the Wing

I  had said to Linda: “Once I finish this story, I can die.” To  which she remarked: “Or, then you can paint the second half  of your life.”

We had been talking by phone around the time I was writing  about her. It was getting out of hand. I was taking too much of her in. My circling her persona  around the images I made in my paintings of four decades before was too intensely entrapping the blithe person with an idealized gloss. I was  gilding the wood lily. How could she breathe!

 But the corresponding good in the present person’s  incarnation seems admirable for the sterling optimism of her refreshing song. Like the sparrows speaking to  Giotto’s Saint Francis, Linda is a chirping bird on playful wings,  happily hopping upwards on branches above and telling me of  wonders in the neighboring meadow and further out beyond.

 Haunted by the mystery of what might be awaiting, the exaltation of fresher breezes takes her scouting out new territory, a petrel over the water. She comes  back with  yarns entwined with sea detritus- enthusiasms that she  unwinds for my benefit. I laugh to myself over her  treasures, and best, I get to stay and hear them  in the comfortable solitude of my studio. I’m not keen on seafaring; though in my mind I like the wind blowing over me as if I were standing on a bluff looking out to sea.

 How did this airy Nereid become the grounding harbor for a  matriarchate full blown with daughters whose names I still can’t remember. Fastidious in her role of  grandmother and  chagrined by the nuisance of it, Linda is happy to get back to her studio, engrossed in the flight unfolding. Before her  in some distance her destiny awaits. She’s very lucky.

 She’s skeptical of my being too focused on her. I tell her  it’s the fault of the writing (the memories of a sumptuous romanticism fuses with the practical goodwill  I hear from  four hundred miles away); it will pass. We back away from each other for the summer. The calls stop for a while, but  not before I tell her: “I don’t want  you in real life. It’s just that I adore you more than ever.”

 

The Woman as Portrait

maria first state calander copy
maria second  calander copy

 

I  see how my friendships with women have followed a pattern similar to painting their portraits. The protocol defining the boundaries between the painter and the  woman being  painted enters a prescribed ritual in a specified duration  that forms the distance in the exchange. Within the protection of its understood immunity, the dance shares a silent intimacy.

 The face in the vast silence of a painting has a Sibylline  density conscious of dropping its most active persona to  gaze into the centered precinct of the self. In  the  sanctuary of that centering, the woman allows her most  complete being to rest calmly before the beholder.

 The painter gazes into openness. Yes, words are spoken, though few, and the painter must paint, but in all other respects the energy field softens to a stillness that  is timeless. No expectations go beyond; one remains content:  each complete in the self within the consciousness of the other.

A  portrait is intended to be passed along to be seen by those in the future. Its communication embraces generations.  Sometimes in its silence, an acquaintance  with the face of someone no longer in this world confides an abundance of clemency. After all, we are all orphans. 

 

Jeannette  copy 60
jackie lima square copy 40
Woman in White full image

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