She was unabashedly selfish: Kneeling beside her narrow bed, I learned a dozen ways to aid her joissance. She’d fall asleep, wake moaning: Fool, did I tell you to stop?
She only painted women deshabille: A waitress from a café on Rue Madelaine who complained of disrobing in the cold, a dancer from McHattie’s who chainsmoked Gauloises, held impossible poses, feral stares. A quiet mustard girl from Maison sipped vodka, said little, sold best.
She dreaded deadlines, painted in a tearful rage. When she cursed me, called me colorblind, I knew better than to argue. But I remember the scent of her shadow, how it lingered when she’d stormed out, stomped down the stairs.
First published in Blue Five Notebook, 2014
Photo: Julian Mandel, Paris, 1933