They never saw the painting

I speak, “Ten long nights I weathered storms, and in these storms I told my adventures that came.

The crowd they gathered, to hear my words. And how they looked with rapture, as my words would fill their passing days.

With each word more people came, until the whole street was filled, with those listening to my speech.

Alas, the hours past, and the time to reveal my masterpiece was upon me. I bit my lip, a nervousness compounded, this was my fate.

I said, ‘People! I wish to tire you no longer of my words. It is time I reveal, this masterpiece I’ve been waiting to show!

File behind me! Do not fear what you don’t know. And open your eyes, to see the beauty that you will behold.’

And how they clamored in a file, and rightly so! They fashioned themselves, as a flock led by a shepherd. And I their beloved, to lead them to awe, a sight that which, they will never have seen without me.

I walked backwards for a moment, to gaze the happiness of the crowd. They were being led, and their smiles abound. Yes there was contentment, the sort that comes from a mid-afternoon stroll. In company with friends, having no sort of goal of their own.

I locked my eyes with a woman I knew. She smiled lightly, but then I turned to walk alone.

I speak as I walk in tow, ‘Now, we have entered, a fine vault of gold! That this be the staging ground, for that which you will be told.

Take a breath, and focus your eyes on the road. Let the glint of the gold, wash away your conceptions tenfold!

Cleanse yourself, break out of your molds. For this gold is yet just the staging, for what you’re about to behold.’

A finely carved golden double-door we reached. And with a tap the doors they slide, away from me.

Moment by moment, the middle gap deepened, and at first their was light, and then there was dark, and then there stood my masterpiece, right on the easel it harked.

My masterpiece, it watched as I allowed the flock to walk. They were on their own now, I’ve led them to the spot.

The crowd took timid steps into the vast white room. There was nothing except the easel, and my masterpiece on it in the middle of this grand room.

And one by one, the flock filled the space. And carefully examined the drawing on the page.

I speak, ‘Is it not the finest art you have seen? That I had spent 50 years on this single art you have now seen!

Do its colors not confound you? Does its vibrancy not implore you? Is this not the most thought-provoking of artistic creations, you’ve seen as to this day?’

But thus I feared what the crowd would think. That precisely in this moment, would be my life put to waste. Ah! But what am I saying, was not a waste nor wasted. Is simply a life, and amongst it all the same.

A man speaks, ‘Sir, but I must inquire. Do you mean to make, a laughing stock of us?

You had promised us salvation outside! That this would surely transform our lives. But then do you not mean, to make good on your useless lie!

I spit at your art! How’s this for a mark!’

And the man paced angrily, and left the white room.

Now my reader, you may have wondered what caused this man’s disdain. Well, I mean to say, that where he expected colors and paint, there was only a blank.

My masterpiece! Yes, indeed an easel and canvas of white. There was nothing on it, except now this man’s spit!

A few more men of a brazen nature left the room, following suit. And each of these men, left a spit upon my canvas too.

So! The room must have cleared more than half, but did I lose my hope? Surely not! I turned to examine the remaining people, and waited for their next act.

A woman speaks, ‘Well, I do attest to the rudest of those men! And indeed, I see what is meant to be said!

This is the finest piece of art yet! That you should allow the viewer to see as they would like to see!

You tantalize the imagination! And should we not all be indebted to that? What you mean to say, is that our salvation is within our grasp!

That we need only think, need only believe! Need only wish, and this canvas will be filled!

Oh you saint! That you should give us this gift, now I can see, that I don’t need to see!’

And the woman closed her eyes, and thus many timid women followed suit and closed their eyes too.

Would they stand in this room for an eternity? That I do not know.

Some time passed, and I felt the room was only 25% people now, and to this, I felt in awe that there should be any people at all!

And content to let my joy be heard, I spoke, ‘Very well! I rejoice to those that have continued to ponder, those who have kept to their patience, kept to their listening, kept to their will to understand, I applaud!

Let us drink! Drink to the spirits that have left us, for may they find in their lifetime much pain! For pain will do them good, and may their pain be inescapable, that they may squirm and squirm until they can squirm no more!

That they will face their fears, and thus move through themselves into their own salvation.

But then! I have lied to you again! That there be any salvation at all! Oh but what is this cruelness? That should have me submit! Submit!

Let us drink! And drink to all those who have fallen before us too!’

And upon this a few men and women clapped and cheered. That they should let down their defenses and move through fear. And amongst this crowd, a lover spoke, and with his words, a dramatic flair,

‘Ah my king! How great your words do please! That you may be so patient as to see our patience, this is a show of your greatness indeed.

But let me not speak for others, but only myself. That I have the greatest want to fill this canvas with love! Shall we not exchange in our gratitudes, and each mark this canvas with blood?

The warmth of an embrace! Does the scent of all come from the heavens above?

Ah! That others may label me, that they should fear the extremes, that they should fear the darkness from love.

But then I do not mold to their fortunes, for I see them more closely then them! I speak but not for me. I teach but not for them. I see if only when I breath –the freshest of airs.

Each gasp, how it takes me past the river of life! Each precious look, is enough to send my head whirling! Pierce my heart throughly, I seek for this embrace, and love is my name.

Let us drink! And make love on this canvas, embrace!’

And so a few men and women amongst each other embraced. And aptly they stripped their clothes and made love around the easel and the canvas.

Whatever may mark it mark it! And I watched and did not watch all the same. But it seems to me, that they would end in stupor too, and from this one thing, they would repeat forever soon.

A few other more rigid men and women looked at the scene with less appeal. Their eyes bore in, they still concealed their words.

But then as the love making proceeded and in its own circle tired itself out. When the lovers were done loving for now, one woman approached, and spoke this for the rest of the crowd,

‘This man is no man, do you see how he deceives? But still I love him, that he should deceive.

The love of the greatest, means the love of the smallest. And if these two halves aren’t to be solved, then nothing is solvable.

How can we spar with a blank canvas! He means to say that we’ve lost. He’s picked a war, that’s already been won!

He’s bought out the whole show, the warriors fight themselves. Is it ironic, that he should believe he’s multiple selves?

He’s split himself up. See it on his canvas! It’s formless we see, but to him it is divided. Its whiteness is not pure, it does not cover the same spectrums.

Notice this white from this white, does it not seem to be a bit concealed? Hmm.. that I feel hits the mark!

That he should wage war, but need to play two parts!

He the victorious. He the defeated. He the ally. He the enemy. He the sword. He the warrior. He the killer. He the slain.

What is this madness he preaches! Is this not a lonely domain? But what bearing does it have, on a society that’s living in pain?

They will throw this bargain! Indeed, look at the number remaining. Does he not mean to say, that he’s trying to be alone?

Let us give him his peace! That this is his wish. That though he thinks himself to want company, he surely only wants his own company.

So we have seen. Let us give this man his dreams.’

And with a decisive turn, the woman turned and left. And with her air of certainty, she commanded, all but one woman standing there.

Looking at the easel, looking at the canvas, looking at the people, who entered and left this canvas. This white room. The room that held the canvas. Now completely marked with the scent, the feelings, the words, the thoughts, the marks of all those men and women who left.

Of course there still stood, the timid women with their eyes closed. And of course there still lay, the lovers in their lover’s glow.

But they were of no concern. They were spent and finished too. And all that was left, was me, the girl, the room.

Oh, how many years! How long must she return! What does this girl want with me? That I should not even be able to say she’s a woman!

That she haunts my circles, paints all my thoughts with red, and underneath the surface, it is her who is in my bed.

I speak, ‘Little maiden! What do you want of me! The show is nearly over, can you not see my masterpiece!

I’ve concocted the greatest deceit! So tell me, was it enough of a feat?

Does it please you to see? Did I not swallow all this hatred for you?

That you should see the depth, of how much I could lose to you.

So. My hour is upon me! Speak! Speak! Speak!’

And the maiden blinked her eyes. Yes, well, she’d always do this line. But what she meant to say, I never knew. I only ever guessed, that her feelings were tightly looped.

Who are you? Say your name at least for me.

And her lips parted and a melody sounded, she spoke and here, are the last words I heard,

‘My master he begs but he is no beggar I’m sure. My master he cups but his fingers leak all the juice. My master he touches but never with his heart. My master he’s bold but never leaves his heart. My master his heart is nothing but a heart.’

That she should speak to me in riddles, well, I know her well enough now. And can I blame the hider? For hiding and doing her part?

That I should seek better! My weariness confounds me yet. That I had led her all the way here, this was a feat at best.

But is there is no answer? Had I not painted the best masterpiece yet? Tell me old soul, are you watching in jest?

She speaks again, ‘I have no advice for you. Your solemn part you play. And the people they crave, for something else today.

But should you worry more, I cannot see the end will come. But isn’t that what all things desire? An end to come?

As soon as power is obtained, we wish to rescind it. As soon as happiness is obtained, it wishes to be rescinded. As soon as love is obtained, it wishes for hatred. As soon as goodness is seen, it runs away for darkness.

Is there no end? Is there no end? What images cross your mind?

Is there no end? Is there no end? The justification leaves you lies.

Is there no end? Is there no end? Tell me, when does life begin?

Is there no end? Is there no end? Is there no end?’

The room became dark with light. And suddenly, a flicker of emptiness entered the room.

It consumed the contents of the white room, taking away the women, men, lovers, and the girl.

And once again, I stood alone in this room with my easel and blank canvas. White as pure white could be.

I looked at its beauty and purity, remembered the hours of dawning. I had for years searched for this, and now returning to me was the last glimmer.

I reached my hand out to touch the canvas. There was no spit on it, no blood, nothing. It was truly pure white.

But had I not painted on this canvas for years? That I had seen colors and fragrances, my life’s work splayed on this canvas!

It was my masterpiece! To have painted and painted, only to have painted white! White with all the colors! White it became! White I rejoiced, as it all blended in vain.

I take a moment to breath. My masterpiece! I turn around to leave, and as I do, I see there’s no door.

Ah! But ten long nights I weathered storms, and in these storms I told my adventures that came.

The crowd they gathered, to hear my words. And how they looked with rapture, as my words would fill their passing days…”

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