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Gabriele Münter Paints Her Lover
by Mary Jo Balistreri

For days I live in the landscape of our lives
painting our story against your gathering darkness.
On canvas, bristles in yellow sulfur ignite the sky.
Though I am lake to your mountain, heart to your mind
you stand apart, lofty and aloof.
I paint you that way in the boat.

That afternoon, I pushed my body into the oars, plunged them
into water to divert the undertow's force, a potency
I pulled back into my hands, up through my arms and thighs.
Waves crested and fell: How I worshipped you,
knelt at your feet, an awe-struck student. Loving you was easy.

Now you see yourself as a god—but do not underestimate me.
I will not lose my way this time.
Equal in art, I steady you like the base of a triangle.
I am ballast to your sail.

Your words swish against the side of our boat,
but my desires penetrate the canvas—
cerulean and sapphire, softest blue of morning.

I am maker of deep green peace, creator of mountains
saturated in royal blue. The sky is mine,
complex and swirling, brushed with the lightest touch.


after Boating, oil on canvas, 1910, Milwaukee Art Museum  


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