I recently went to an art exhibit for Van Gogh and it reminded me of an exhibit I attended during a college final for Monet and Matisse. We were instructed to view the exhibit and then write something—a poem, a short piece, etc.—based on the exhibit. This is one of the prose poems I wrote in response to Monet’s Japanese Bridge painting from 1923.
The bridge hovers amidst a swirling storm of emerald and burnt orange. A glossy smear flickers the canvas into a wave of mystical fire and smoke. But there are shadows of reds—angry and passionate—and black—mysterious and dangerous. Vigilante color screaming into the dark streets of abandonment. Because it’s not the brushstrokes that matter or how visible the bridge appears; it’s not about the simmering shades or the time it took to get this far. It’s about how it makes you feel. How the rage of fire forces you off the edge of a building to punch pavement and skulls until your hands are battered and dripping with the swirling storm of color. Until all you can see are the reds and blacks of a bridge on fire, of oil and canvas, of a world on fire, of chemicals and blindness.