Portrait of a Lady on Fire

Portrait of a Lady on Fire ★★★★★

i. you’re nervous

you were made for male consumption and you do not challenge this. you bury the dissatisfaction, and the questions down in your soul. you tell yourself that you are lucky to have her as such a wonderful friend. you let yourself slip in off-hand phrases.

ii. you’re quiet.

you savor the little things. the pauses between the laughter, the spaces in the conversation. she can quell you with a glance. she can stop you with a smile. you can’t speak because if you do you’ll scream and then you’ll have to give all the yearning inside you a voice. and it will be terrible and it will be loud and you just want to be as small and invisible as you can.

iii. you swim.

it’s chilly out here, wrapped in your loneliness. you play the piano for warmth so that you don’t have to hear your own heartbeat. you enter the water and hope that you will float instead of drown. sinking with the weight of your desire.

iv. you start over

you dredge up the parts that hide and you decide that you cannot be small anymore. you don’t find yourself but some small piece becomes loose. you feel lighter. your smile is truer. you let the glow envelope you. you read the language of love in the smallest details of her face. you have a voice. you use it.

v. you’re burning.

you stand by the blaze and listen to the music grow more frantic. you take her hand and she is on fire. everything is screaming at you that this isn’t natural but the spark overpowers everything and all of sudden you are lost in her skin. time has ceased to exist. the two of you are intermingled in the universe.


they say that orpheus turned back to look at his lost love, eurydice, and lost her again. the books say he was overcome with his desire for her, that he couldn't wait to have her back in his arms, but you think perhaps doubt had begun to creep in. you don’t look back.

vi. you are burning part II.

you are madly in love. you cannot resist.
love is not big. it is small and in the crevices of her smile. this is not a bonfire, it is a spark you know will be extinguished one day. but you embrace and try to forget.

(do all lovers feel they are inventing something?)

vii. you paint

burning means warmth and warmth is safety. warmth is more than safety, it is what affirms and what gives. life is vibrant, full of love and friendship. colors spill from your heart onto the page. and the paintings come alive with her grin.

interlude part ii

some whisper that orpheus made a choice when he turned back to look at eurydice. he wanted the memory more than he wanted the woman herself.

vii. you scream

and scream and scream and scream. you have a voice. you use it.

viii. you paint again

you let her go. the spark dies out. one day your memory will fade and she shall turn to dust, so you paint. you let her live on in brilliant hues. and when you think of her, you think of the images and the person and the way they intertwine. you remember when she fell asleep at the table and she remembers the dark look you gave her at cards. death will welcome you both one day with open arms and perhaps you shall see her again as equals. we all end up here. this is our final abode.

(when do we know it’s finished? at one point, we stop.


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