Friday, September 4, 2009

Arrondissement 7: Musée d'Orsay

“I have just one question for you, Mathieu.”

His voice could squeeze the oil from the canvases.

“What can I do to get you behind a camera again?”

I laughed one of those Hollywood laughs. Just to mess with him.

“That’s simple. Turn back the clock twenty years,” I said. “Or pay me in Manets and Van Goghs.”

I ignored the wall of Renoirs, so he followed me into the next gallery.

“Jesus," he said. "You won Best Director at Cannes. Twice! You were a national treasure. Godard’s successor. You could have been--

Footsteps falling. Like water dripping into a cistern.



I turned like a man, suddenly thirsty.


Dark hair.

Summer-scented dress.

Legs like a fractured laugh.

Color flaking off her toenails.
Electron-pink snowflakes.
Dusting the heart's eyelash.

When she stopped to examine my favorite painting in the gallery, her head tilted to the side. Her hair slipped off her neck. The lady in the painting copied her. Who wouldn't?

Her eyes slid over to brush mine with wet color.

Loud longing in a hush-hush cave
Building cresting breaking
Submission surrender squeezed

A tangled eddy of gorgeous pain
Sucking to swirl me up again

“So there’s nothing I can do to convince you?” his voice broke in.

I blinked.

Her eyes danced away. Like a pretty Degas.


She moved into the next gallery.



I let her go.

I turned to my hustler friend and put a hand on his shoulder. “Frederick, do you know what my favorite part of a film is now? And I’m talking any film.”

“What’s that?”

“Those black scratches right before the first shot.”

I let him ponder that while examining the painting her eyes had touched. Some brushstrokes earlier.

“It’s the one movie I could watch over and over again. I’ve even given it a title. Want to hear it?”

He shrugged, and glanced at his watch. While I looked toward an artless doorway.

The Greatest Story Never Told.”


Stephen Parrish said...

This is art, Sarah. "Legs like a fractured laugh" is my favorite line, but it's all beautiful.

Karen said...

This is wonderful characterization and inner and outer dialogue, Sarah. Your language, whether poetry or prose is always full of figurative language and is beautifully poetic.

His viewing of this woman - his personal momentary work of art - fully realizes the setting and discussion of art/film in general.

I love that you have the painting mimic her in his eyes. What a wonderful detail!

I'm not sure, but I think I like Musee D'Orsay more than the Louvre. I think it's the setting itself - that clock and staircases are gorgeous. I had hoped you'd write about it, and I nearly suggested that instead of Isle de la Cite. I got the best of both wishes!

You take me back. Thank you, for I love Paris!

Catvibe said...

I loved the longing he felt in the moment, even more poignant knowing it would never be fulfilled. I muse. I could see Audrey Hepburn somehow. She had that delicacy about her. I loved the intertwining of the dialogue and the moment that was so rich while his friend was unaware.

You make me want to go go Paris today.

Sarah Hina said...

Steve, that was my favorite line to write.

Thank you for your warm words here. They're very appreciated.

Karen, I definitely like the Orsay better than the Louvre, so I'm glad we're in agreement. :)

This vignette meant something extra to me, because of a scene in my novel (Mathieu is a character in it). I did want to make it about Impressionism, both in art and perception. He'd been burned so badly by love and life to take any more risks, outside of that fleeting moment.

Thank you so much for the kind words, Karen. You always capture precisely what I'm trying to do. And I'd love for us to meet at that clock in the Orsay--I know just the one you mean.

Cat, let's all go. I could use a getaway...

Longing is powerful, and yet the past experience of having your heart broken is even more so. Only the latter could blunt the former's potency. I still have hope for Mathieu, though. I know him well.

I'm glad you could see Audrey here. I have a special place in my heart for her. And Moonriver.

Charles Gramlich said...

Yes, fine stuff. I was struck by the "legs like a fractured laugh" line myself.

Sarah Hina said...

Charles, I appreciate that. Thank you for the lovely words.

the walking man said...

"...Godard’s successor. You could have been--”

I love that he became what he was rather than what he didn't want to be. There is security in that and you presented it quite effectively Sarah.

Rose Marie Raccioppi said...

“The Greatest Story Never Told.”

This last line so very telling... how much of what is told, what is said to be known, actually recounts what Is or Was. The dialogue so aptly presents this dichotomy - the inner and outer voices depicting self. Well Done!

Margaret said...

Your writing is equivalent to the most beautiful painting in the Musee D'Orsay Sarah.

It's electrifying!

I'm beginning to crave to visit Paris again with every vignette you write.

Aniket said...

"Summer-scented dress.
Legs like a fractured laugh.
Color flaking off her toenails.
Electron-pink snowflakes.
Dusting the heart's eyelash."

Seriously? I mean SERIOUSLY! How do you come up with this stuff? I thought only Calvin could think of such lines.

Inspiration strikes in the most mysterious ways. I have a crystal image of 'The Lady in PInk' too. Sometimes those flash encounters are enough to make a lasting impression.

For me, this is the best in the series... So far. :D

Stephen Parrish said...

I agree with Aniket: this is the best in the series so far.

Jennifer said...

Sarah, this is amazing. It's not just the level of detail, but the truly vivid and original way you must see things in order to paint them with your words so that we, too, may see. My favorite is the toenails. But even the voice, capable of squeezing oil from the canvas, is fabulous.

I've said this before, no doubt as clumsily as I will here again, but there is a feel to your prose--and I strongly suspect that I would recognize it anywhere--of something soft and lovely dancing over one's skin. It makes you want to hold very still so that it doesn't end.

This is just brilliant, from start to finish.

Sorry for my absence (again!). My last visitors (from my side this time) left a week ago. It's good to have a moment to myself, finally. :)

Monkey Mama said...

I was there, many years ago...

Elegant. And Mathieu felt bigger than this piece. I see why now in your commments.

Chris Eldin said...

Hi Sarah, I have my blog back again. Hope you can drop by...

Tongue Trip said...

this is what i call mind-blowing stuff.

日月神教-任我行 said...