I’m pretty sure the painting was supposed to be a field of poppies, a simple landscape. Flowers in the foreground, mountains in the distance. I’m sure of it. Maybe the reason I picked it up for $4 in a hand stretched linen frame has to do with the fact that that the poppies look a whole lot like droplets of blood.
Some nights swear I’m in the room with him while he daydreams himself into the canopy of leaves, pine needles poking into his legs as he stretches out to let he sun dry his trail sweat. Him and me, we explore those trails together; we say fudge those flowers, fudge the flat land, and we skinny dip in the coldest water this side of the Mississippi. A black snake stands up to judge us for a minute before settling onto a rock above our heads, the way black snakes sometimes do, sideways on a rock, looking like someone drew a curvy line with a sharpie.
He doesn’t care about anything back beyond that bloody lake. He wants out of this commitment, and this painting, and this fudgeing field of flowers that he -oh, why in GOD’s NAME did he- promised her he’d hang on the damn wall across from that godforsaken mechanical bed. That up and down, up and down, up and down bed that will never-will NEVER-take her to the mountains. The mountain range she HAD to have. That she MADE HIM PAINT. On the other side of an ocean of blood.
In my fantasy the man put this canvas away-he hid it in the garage, out of her reach and field of vision. I like to picture us, shaking hands gently at the trailhead as he turns to wade through an ocean of blood back to a clean canvas to begin again.
I like to imagine that, somewhere there exists a cheerful painting consisting of a field of poppies and happy mountain range, and there is a woman who wakes to that painting every morning and says “On! My poppies! My mountain! My love! Thank you for bringing my home to me when I can no longer go to my home.”