Maestro Bartolomé Reconsiders his “Creation of Eve”

Sometime, late in the fifteenth century, Maestro Bartolomé
stepped back, in order to more clearly regard his recently completed
“Creation of Eve,” and realized he had made a grave mistake.

He sat down next to the open window and gazed out to where—
at the far limit of the landscape—across the empty square
and slanted rooftops of the city, the spires of a distant cathedral
pierced the sky.

There is always (he thought) that inevitable point—
where the visible is no longer split into seen and unseen,
and the unseen simply drops away into a further unseen.

If he could paint that. Not the woman as she was,
or would have been, in the moment—or just after—
 having “emerged” from the man

(as though she was, before even being created,
already the beginning of the idea of a created thing)

but emergency itself…

The way that she would have arrived, unannounced,
utterly new, from what, beyond what can be
apprehended and named: “unseen,” “unknown,”
simply is that thing. 

If he could paint that:

woman as landscape. But beyond both the limit
and idea of landscape.

Just: a blur of colour and form – a collapsed line
indicating where line can no longer be drawn…

Woman, then, as all things; as the emergency
of every moment, arriving unaccountably
from some place beyond the imagined
limit of itself….

Here the Maestro’s mind began to wander;
it was difficult to think like this, in such
general terms. He began to feel restless.
He thought of love.

How love, too, was always,
at the same time, the emergence
and the dissolution of limit and form.

And so creation, the issue of love, was and could not—
as he had so far been taught—be applied simply, in layers;

it could not be surprised by a deft stroke of the brush,
or an unsuspecting angle. 

It needed to arrive unannounced and independent
of the hand of the artist who drew it there—

from his more or less discerning eye.

In the form of chance: a pure gift.

It needed to glance—suddenly, and without direction—
off the surface of the painting—as light glances off of
water, or as one density of air glances off of
another, creating, as it does so, a current of wind.

So that was it (thought the Maestro). The reason
he had, in his depiction of the “Creation of Eve,”
missed it somehow.

It hadn’t happened yet.

He turned back to his painting, picked up his brush
and held it for a breathless moment in the air.

He had missed nothing! Creation, itself, was
only just then occurring! Just about to occur.

He painted out the woman.

Then he painted out the man.

In their place, he drew man and woman at once.

As best he could: so that it was impossible to
tell any longer which form emerged from which,
and both and neither hesitated just as his
brush had hesitated, a moment ago, in the air…

And whether it was to comfort himself, or
because it was so, he thought that it was
somehow right—somehow just—that his
first attempt should exist beneath the next.

That his first, mistaken, effort, could never
fully, or finally be erased…

Was not everything built, like that (he thought)
in invisible layers? A record not of where one had
come from, but of the erasure of limits imposed on what
one might, or could become?

Johanna Skibsrud prefers not to. 

Published On: September 25, 2015
Permanent Location:

Volume 8, Issue 3
September 25, 2015

Via Toronto

an Introduction

Paul Vermeersch

Penguin Suicide

Shazia Hafiz Ramji

beached poem

Shazia Hafiz Ramji

watched by the drone

Dani Couture

They Will Take My Island

Johanna Skibsrud

Maestro Bartolome Reconsiders his "Creation of Eve"

Johanna Skibsrud

Lacking the Wind's Higher Reasoning

Canisia Lubrin

Postcard from the volcano

Kilby Smith-McGregor

Taking off your glasses

Kilby Smith-McGregor

Feb 12, 2001 - Present

1 / 2 / 3 / 4 / 5 / 6 / 7


Melville Street
Vancouver, B.C.
V6E 3V6

ISSN: 1710 193X

Copyright © forgetmagazine
all rights reserved, suckers
all content © the authors