That night, in Paris, when the news came that
they had bombed the village, you kept waking
from sleep. In one dream I heard you call out
‘Maya, Maya,’ your mistress’ daughter.
Across from you I lay barren, afraid to breathe.
Next morning, the soul that just yesterday
wept was quiet, charcoal in hand, as you
tried to corral in the vast cold room the last
nuance of the night’s dream into a
silhouette of form, reshaping your nightmare:
Underneath the condor’s swirling legion,
the bull’s retreat, the stallion’s agony,
the screaming of the sixteen hundred men
and women and children, a market day
turned into fire, a holocaust of innocents.
Once you stopped, watching me. You strode over,
cut a swatch of my hair, fixed it onto
a sketch, as a collage; then fell to work again.
Three hundred drawings, and every drawing
a dream, and every dream another death.
Finally, on the fifteenth day, you stretched
your mural’s canvas, twelve feet by twenty-six,
slant-braced to fit under the studio ceiling.
There, on that expanse, you found a way
to give voice to those unspoken horrors:
The woman with a dead child in her arms;
the man engulfed in flames; the subjugated
bull; stigmata on a soldier’s open palm;
a javelin in a writhing horse; daggers and fire;
and the lightbulb’s bale, unblinking stare.
From across the room I aimed my camera
at you, my sniper’s rifle, counting each shot
with your every stroke – color against white,
politics against art, anger against tears, as you
waged across the canvas your uncivil war.