The Intrusive Imagination
Five hundred years ago, there was a child who grieved with such perfection that an artist – unknown and unabashed – sought to invade the sanctuary of her youthful lamentation. Her ivory mourning clothes, her gentle confusion, the purity of her sadness uncorrupted by an adult’s reasoning, was too much of a temptation for the painter not to capture her flawless sorrow.
The font of her distress lay crumpled in her hands, held like a crushed offering. She doesn’t look at it, but stares straight ahead, holding it with the intuition and perception of the blind: as if all she needed to know came from her sense of touch.
She is holding her pet bird. Its throat is broken and twisted. Its beak is gaping: all music evaporated and departed. Its feathers are torn, as a result of some unknown rendezvous – rough and unwelcome. Once bright and fluttering, it now was coiled in death’s feral and hungry grip: beyond the comprehension of its loving owner.
Above the broad laced kirtle, forcing shape onto a still unformed body, and a coif’s strap that has disappeared beneath her chin, her eyes are stunned with wonder. Wandering beyond the edges of the canvas, they have surely drifted beyond the limits of her childish experience and are lost in the miasma of an elusive truth that flickers like foxfire.
She doesn’t understand or even know how her treasured pet came to its end. She holds the bird tight, searching for the warmth of its quick heart, the slightest betrayal of life. But it is as dead as a doll; and she is alone: pinned to the painting’s black background as if she was a butterfly.
What could have happened? Who would have attempted such subtle thievery and throttled her toy in the night?
We can never know. All we have is the child’s unfocused, weary speculation, and an artist’s intrusive imagination that would dare grasp an ethereal emotion: the wraithlike, caressing feeling that threatens to vanish as soon as he places down his brushes.
Melinda Giordano is a native of Los Angeles, California. Her written pieces have appeared in the Lake Effect Magazine, Scheherazade’s Bequest, Whisperings, Circa Magazine and Vine Leaves Literary Journal among others. She was also a regular poetry contributor to CalamitiesPress.com with her own column, ‘I Wandered and Listened’ and was twice nominated for the Pushcart Prize. She writes flash fiction and poetry that speculates on the possibility of remarkable things – the secret lives of the natural world.