Le Moulin de la Galette

I saw you there, acting drunk because you had been painted that way by Renoir, who had you draped in the arms of a banker twice your age with a weak back and the personality of a shovel. You ought to have rebelled � I suppose you think you already had, but taking hours to bathe and dress and then drinking champagne until you can no longer stand are not acts of rebellion. These days, everyone does exactly that. Some even combine the steps: they bathe in champagne and then put on their clothes while sitting in the tub.

What was his name? � that�s what I want to know. To his credit, Pierre-August made the old goat look like a heart patient. But you � ah! you looked like the wife of a beet farmer lugging a bolt of questionable linen. In a fit of gallantry, he had allowed his little finger to become entangled in the broad ribbon flapping at your waist. Yes, I saw that as well. His fingers were numb, almost blue, and might have been cut off and used as fish bait without his knowing. His hat had already been in the water.

But never mind. All I really mean to say is that I would have painted you differently. I haven�t the talent of Renoir, and certainly make due with less skill, but my passion for art more than makes up for it. I do not paint men with stoves on their heads, or make perfectly normal women look like rotting pears. Life is hard enough as it is. I might possess all the talent in the world, but it could never make me forget that you are a beautiful woman � just as I cannot forget my peasant background, and the years I spent toiling under the merciless sun, clearing my father�s field of rocks. Imagine! � he lived to be eighty-seven, yet he never ran out of rocks. Finally, he said, �Leave them.� Then he died. That is the basis of my work.

You are laughing. I love you anyway. I love you in a way that is dangerous to my health. But stay with Renoir if that is your wish. He is not a bad man. I will inhabit the street below, and paint you looking out his window. I will remember the sunlight on your neck, and the soft music you bring to the somber end of autumn. The banker will be dead by then, and the place where all of us gathered will be cold and empty, save for a few brittle leaves. I will go there and wait for spring.

April 3, 2005

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Also by William Michaelian

Winter Poems

ISBN: 978-0-9796599-0-4
52 pages. Paper.
Another Song I Know
ISBN: 978-0-9796599-1-1
80 pages. Paper.
Cosmopsis Books
San Francisco

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