A Marriage by Julie Bruck
From last week’s New Yorker.
His paintings were small, suggestions
of houses, pinpricks of green for trees.
She’d set her glass down, say, Paint
like you’re blind, from memory and passion –
two words he especially didn’t care for.
She’d say, Paint like you’re on fire.
But their house was already burning,
And he was going blind and deaf.
So he’d carry the painting back down
to the basement, resume with
his thinnest sable brush. He would
Never touch her the way she wanted,
Though she kept asking him to,
Like this, in front of everybody.
A marriage going wrong. The two styles, passionate on fire, or tiny pinpricks of green with the thinnest sable brush, metaphors for the differences that drive couples apart. Hardly important, but trying to correct them makes things worse. We never learn to let people alone.
What did St Augustine say? “A tree praises God mainly by being a tree.” So does a wife, or a husband.
And the final line? How she wants to be touched and how his painting makes him feel.
I’m looking out for Julie Bruck.