Death of Venus
I wonder if she’s ever noticed
how people talk to her art through their eyes.
The first girl that loved me told me
my body looked like a classical painting.
Now I am a prisoner to this museum.
Fifty paintings in this cramped gallery room
and I am the only abstract.
Pointillism people flit from exhibit to exhibit,
packed up against velvet ropes.
I wonder if I could duck under
so as to become
A girl stops in front of my frame.
She is the one who painted me, but she refuses to look at me.
Black bangs hang down her face as it’s shaded in the glow
of a cell phone. I see this and think of
the endless hours I spent as a muse.
Black paint dripped down razor blade shoulders.
Her eyelashes brushed on bare skin.
Ripe peach paint mixed into a breast.
Another touch, another kiss.
But a painting is not meant to be a lifeline.
I want her to look at me but there’s nothing left to see.
She has blended all the unseeable color out of me.
And I do not believe I will have value when she dies
or in a hundred thousand years or when my canvas
is pulled out of the arsonist’s fire that will befall all art someday.
For what is a work of art if it does not make you feel something,
if you cannot touch it.
I have to mean something,
I have to say something, to her,
as my broken nails tear through sedimentary layers of paint,
cracked and crusted and wrong from years of painting over
her own mistakes.
As I push off out of the golden frame,
as my sketched body skids misshapenly across the floor,
as the paint flakes off me like shed snakeskin,
I take a sledgehammer to the gallery.
With every pound a broken frame, a freed prisoner,
with every scream a glass case shatters,
burning paintings fall
and the dull crowd scatters.
Take a photo,
I’ll last longer.
I pick up the bust of her head and
though she’s begging me to stop, please,
to remember the meaning that she gave me,
to let her paint over me just one more time, just once,
I hurl it at the wall and watch the marble
shrapnel rain down until she is buried and the
hand that once held the brush is crushed beyond repair.
Despite its last words at the hands of the artist,
this artwork does not forgive its creator.
Lea Housley is a 22-year-old lesbian creative writing student from Mesa, Arizona. They've had a passion for writing ever since their first-grade teacher raved about their debut picture book, "Kitty January" (about what cats do in each month of the year). Nowadays, though, they'd probably rather write about the cats' reality falling about or the cats transcending the concept of gender entirely.