Soliloquy on White

When my daughter and I visited the Museum of Modern Art in NYC, the exhibit of white canvases amused us. The meaning was lost on us and we wondered how anyone could call it “art”. So, just for fun, I decided to consider what the artist might have had in mind, which quickly morphed into my interpretation.

Like a Degas dancer in a minimalist scape, she enters
The MoMa gallery briskly, not intending to linger
Shades of white on white canvas, white walls
Light fixtures emanating white light, like

An isolation room in an insane asylum. She thought
Art was supposed to move, provoke, offer respite, delight.
As she moves in, her head tilts
Baffled by an eggshell ink-not painting

Unbroken, except by the scribbling of his name.
She ventures a guess into the artist’s mind
Maybe it’s the crisp, white sheet he drapes over his body
Before slapping off the alarm, noise breaking

Circadian rhythm and silence, stirring to wakefulness
Like a spoon in frothy cream on his coffee, hot jolt
To push him through early traffic hours.
Then again, perhaps it’s his white button-down shirt, unadulterated

Before his black tie runs a thick line, like a Sharpie,
Down the front, or the back of a sheet of paper
Fresh with possibility to day
Dream, he jots down the initial sketch of a mountain retreat.

Or it’s clouds, cumulus puffs against a blue sky as he lies on his back
Grass tickling his ear as she laughs beside him, then their fingertips
Touch, or the chef’s apron at the French restaurant where their eyes
Delight with fire as he slides the diamond on her slender finger

After she says yes, then it’s lilies, a veil, reams of pure white bridal
Beauty, then meringue on his cheek, and laughter, deep and long.
Maybe it’s her hair, long after the blonde has taken flight.
Or the cat she loved, but he hated. No, why would he paint that?

Maybe it’s snow, softly blanketing the hill
On the other side of the world
As they watch it fall outside windowpane, warmed inside, but now
They are four, and two giggle and twirl in white tulle after

The Nutcracker ballet, Tchaikovsky plays, fitting musical score
For this season in life, or perhaps, thinking of a new beginning
He paints over the trials and pain of loss with white out?
Or does he seek to capture He, who was transfigured?

His face shone like the sun, His clothes white as light.
Love conquers death.
Yes, that’s it.

She loosens the red ribbon from her hair
Leaves it there, then smiles and walks away
But won’t deign to call it Art, not today.


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