I’m sitting on a marble bench
and the headset I’m wearing
brings a voice into my head.
Its tones are familiar,
the timber of its words
feeling like a caress.
“If you turn to look at the canvas on your left, you’ll notice the primal aspects of the piece.”
Turning to look,
I take in the dark shadows of a man
who has obviously raised his fist.
The mans shadow falls along the figure
of a child. When I look at this child,
I recognize myself
“You’ll notice that the artist brings the viewer into the very moment they learned fear.”
I remember those moments,
there are too many to count,
instances of abuse that were framed
as fatherly discipline.
The voice directs me to another piece of art.
“If you look at the painting on the right, you’ll notice that the artist embraced the abstract.”
I look upon a canvass that looks
as if it were made of shattered glass.
There are letters that are scratched
into the surface, as if with a nail,
spelling out the word FREAK.
I see my face in the glass
looking back at myself,
broken into pieces and I try
to pull them back together.
“In this piece, the artist shows us one of the moments where he learned to hate himself. I do wonder though, is the artist the freak? Or the one that thought him to be one?”
I want to yell at the voice,
tear the headphones from my ears.
I remember the man who called me freak,
surprised that I can recall his voice
so clearly in my head.
How long have I been holding on to this?
“Now, if you look to the piece in the middle, you’ll notice that the artist has embraced colour.”
I look at the centre painting and recoil.
In the painting, I am on an island looking lost
within myself. I can see the blue waters
that are choppy and violent as they eat away
at the sand. There are trees the surround me
and the leaves look like they are made of flesh.
In the corner of the canvas, I can see a man in the shadows,
forcing the water to take more of the island.
Soon, I will have nothing to stand on and will drown.
“We have to wonder at the artist’s isolation. Did other man do this to him? Or did the artist let the shadow man pull him away from everyone?”
Remembering the trauma he put me through,
to the point where I doubted my own sanity,
almost losing myself to the darkness of the trees,
I pull the headphones from my ears and the silence
of the gallery is almost deafening.
Turning away from this trio of paintings,
I am struck by a fourth. Within it,
there is light that is parting the clouds,
filling the canvas with a warmth
that is missing from the other three.
I can hear the wind and it sings to me.
Upon the wind, I can hear the voice
that calls to me softly,
speaking in the unknown language of the heart.
There is a path within the painting.
Wondering where it leads to,
I stand and leave the headset on the marble bench,
walking away from all the pain
that I have carried for so long.
When I reach the canvas,
I stretch out my hand and touch the glass
that covers it. The glass shimmers
and I can hear the wind more clearly,
feel the sun shining down on my face.
I take a step forward into the painting.
Standing on the path, I know that the only way
is forward. I take one step and then another,
not knowing where this path will lead,
but knowing that I will find
a new direction within