the figure


The Figure
Jill Bialosky

From a blank canvas sprang a swirl of color and emotion:
a mysterious figure emerging from a dark thicket.

Was he beautiful? Did it matter?
For once ugliness could be a form of beauty: an equivalent

to prove the soul’s existence.
Dried paint like a second skin on our hands, its oily smell—

was it possible to replicate love?
The paintbrush unleashed a river of blood.

The day darkened in the room. Time lost track.
We forgot our mothers still in bed, the failure of fathers,

secret lives of our sisters. Is it the figure’s mystery
that enthralls or the shock of seeing manifest the passion

we longed to hide? Is he our stillborn twin or a lost love
buried under the debris of daily existence? Or the terror

of loss itself? Brutal hands, a slash of red.