A Night Painted by Matisse, Summers McKay
Turning left instead of right we wandered across the park outside the Matisse museum toward the Mediterranean Sea. The true rich darkness of expression had fallen and we found ourselves as friends reuniting after a brief and unsettled separation.
You, an artist with strong hands and a clear passion for adventure followed me, the fleeting muse, as I danced my way to the water’s edge. In our descent to the ocean we held our breath, both sensing a familiar hunger hoping it might soon pass. Like brushstrokes of monochromatic color, the red studio of creation blended into one deep sigh. Paintings of forms arching in playful directions hung on the walls of our moment. In the air there was certainty that perhaps a new form of oil on canvas was evolving. Working together in a new medium was of course forbidden, so instead we walked and talked as we had so many times before. Playfully testing the waters to determine their temperature and depth. Both ignoring the pounding of our hearts, we strode alongside the moonlit sea.
You said surreal, I sighed Matisse. There was something more classic about the night than a Dali, and more happily passionate than a Van Gogh. You took my hand, or I took yours, and we could have wandered for hours with interlaced palms and winding steps in the cool ocean night - but a silent clock ticked and we knew our evening would eventually end. For that moment, there was not yet anguish. Like the rhythmic arrangement of lines and colors on a flat plane, we were entirely 2D with no shadows of repercussion.
Then as we stepped into the darkness of a palm, bright moments of color amidst a rich background of greens and blacks burst forth. You could resist no longer. Your kiss fell hard like a powerful attack, like Donatello in a cage of wild beasts. Bruising my hungry mouth, you left a sensual memory I would be able to recall for days by running my lower lip between my teeth.
I can even now feel your kiss as I toy with my jade necklace, playing it on my tongue. It’s cool at first like the water that licked my calves and with each moment of memory, my temperature rises and so does the jade between my fingers and around my neck.
The caress of your strong hands painted the curves of my classic form and you felt the roundness of my soul with each fevered brush stroke. We tried to contain a moment of very public passion yet with each stride drew closer. Bodies wrapped in classic poses wanting not to abandon a moment so long in creating, we explored. When the paint’s fumes grew too strong and the benches of the park overlooking the Mediterranean were insufficient to complete any masterpiece, we parted ways as gently as our night began. You walked forward. I turned back.
But who was the artist that night and who was the muse? Were we simply ecstatic colors in the palette of a more powerful creator? Did Aphrodite, Eros, Apollo, Dioynsus, and Poseidon conspire to create such a yearning masterpiece?
I returned to my bed and spent days dreaming of your kiss, inspired by your hands. Would we ever elect to paint together in such a clandestine way again? As perhaps it was our only moment of artistic embrace, I have memorized the sequence of colors so I might remain warmed by your touch. We were two souls painting in tandem a surreal night of fever and expression.