Cubist Portrait Painted in Words

She led a paper doll life.
Strived to meet expectations from so many.
Put yourself together this way.
Tabs turned down. Pieces in place.

But those over there said, It’s better this way.
Snip snip. Glue applied till she was rearranged.
Someone else said, Add this to your face.
Minimize that part, emphasize this.

And all the hims over the years.
He said, Do this. So she did.
The last him said, Do what I say.
Wear this, not that. Never that.

She cut herself up so many times.
Attributes shed, shards left behind.
Fragments added,
ill fit though they were.

Until one day,
someone gifted her a bouquet.
A mixed bouquet
with twelve different blooms.

Holding them close, she eyed them carefully.
Curled up edges on the violet one.
Red rose, sagged and drooped a bit,
stem too thin for its weight.

Each flower beautiful in its own way,
nestled together in soft silk ribbons.
And at that moment, she decided.
I will be me.

Written for dVerse, the virtual pub for poets around the globe where today, I’m hosting Tuesday Poetics.

Today’s prompt introduces writers and readers to Thorvald Hellesen (1888 – 1937). I was introduced to this artist at our recent visit to the National Museum of Norway in Oslo. Hellesen grew up and studied art in Kristiania (Oslo). His debut exhibit in 1919, in Kristiania, was met with much derision and he never showed his art in Norway again. He moved to Paris at age twenty-three where he joined the circles of Picasso and Fernand Leger, Cubists who turned the norm of what art should be upside down. He had successful exhibitions in Paris and in addition to his painting, went on to design posters, textile patterns and worked with interior design. 104 years after his fatal debut in Kristiania (Oslo), this is the first museum exhibition devoted to Norway’s first consistent Cubist.

Within the prompt, I provide five different portraits painted by Hellesen, three of which are in the Cubist tradition, including the one I’ve used and posted above, “Suitor. Figure with Bouquet” painted in 1917-1918. Writers must choose one of the five portraits as inspiration for a poem and, of course, give credit to Hellesen.