novel excerpt (I think)

Paint it today. A picture. A prototype. Paint a woman who serves as model for others. Paint a wife, a mother. Paint a creator. Paint the middle class. Paint a mild summer. Paint the total eclipse on the horizon, weeks away, to mark the turning toward school and schedules and the fall. Another autumn. Another fall.

Omit the ominous. Leave out the madman in the office, the elephant in the room. Paint the conversation that is happening, that was always happening, though not in fifty years has it been so audible. Paint the racism and the rioting. Paint the women in this country fighting for what many women in Europe already held in their hands. Paint the women in this country fighting so that women on other continents might have education and clean water and the right to move their bodies freely, the right to claim their bodies at all. Paint voices that are heard. Paint future that are brilliant. Paint until the colors streak down your forearms and drip off your elbows. Paint until the walls tell the story and the floor tells you the story beside the story and the ceiling, up out of their reach, tells you all of the stories underneath that so many people fight like mad to keep covered in darkness. Paint the way your body feels. Paint the way your blood pulses through the subterranean river in your neck, just below the surface of your skin at your pelvis, at the delicate branching from forearm to palm, in your ears when you sleep. Paint the stretch marks that have claimed your hips like the scars left by a lover’s zealous fingernails. Paint the faint beginnings of varicose veins at the backs of your knees. Paint your ring finger, the bearer of your wedding band, and the way that finger veers crookedly at the outermost knuckle from the time you broke it roughhousing as a child. Paint the swollen imperfections, and paint the pores that society tells you are too large. Paint the pale, unaccountable strands of hair that straighten and sway away from the dark waving curls you have always known. Paint the hair you’ve neglected to shave, the hair you now have no intention of shaving. Paint the words you will no longer swallow, the outrage you will no longer temper with so-called pragmatism. Paint the muscles that run all over your body, the muscles that lift and pull and push and carry every burden and reach for every prize you desire.

Paint your lover. Paint the human body beside your human body, this person who is infinite in complexity. Paint every moment you have marveled at the good fortune of calling this person yours. Paint every one of the thousand cups of tea you have poured for one another, every kiss given, every touch received. Paint the nights you went to bed frustrated, furious, on opposite sides of an insurmountable wall. Paint all of the mornings you woke to find the wall, in daylight, to be knee-high and mossy sweet.

Paint it today and tomorrow and again next season. When the paint is all used up, use pencil and pen. Stitch the tale into cloth, into wool, with cotton thread. Weave it, warp and weft, or carve it from wood, from stone. Shape the clay, the loaf. Use the scraps no one else will claim to make a mosaic of broken glass, a collage of pictures torn and faded.

There will always be the autumn. There will always be falls. But the waves are constant.

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