Monday, June 1, 2009

It Began With A Mouse

scampering across my breakfast nook floor. The first time, he fleeted by I only saw a shadow from the corner of my eye. It was so sudden, I could not tell whether it was mouse, a house-trapped sparrow or even a hobgoblin. I was not disturbed by the incident but rather intrigued. A few days later, I literally saw the gray creature
scurrying across my living room heading for some dark hole behind the stereo speakers.

I became rather amused and remembered a delightful poem I had read on Poetry Foundation called "The Paris Mouse" by Sandra Gilbert. She also had an audio version of this poem where she explained the origins of its inspiration. Namely, a bevy of mice in the walls of her Parisian flat. One decided to scavenge for food in her kitchen and she expressed her angst and humor in this poem.

I kept thinking about my encounter with the mouse and my first impression of what it could have been. That depended on the mood I was in. If I had been wearing elegance in both perfume and dress, I might have wanted something more quaint, more agilely whimsical like a bird, an acrobatic sparrow. A plain mouse would have seemed dowdy, even commonly droll. Then I imagined a woman posing in a Parisian atelier for a sculptor. Stripped of her defenses and her clothing, she would need to attain an air of perfect stillness. She would want the pose to be beautiful and inspiring. If this gray varmit suddenly skuttled across the room, she might only see the shadow of something. And that is the key phrase, "The shadow of somethng". Keeping in tune with her fine posture, her small repast of fine cheese and fruit supplied by her employer, and the ambience of a "sculptured afternoon", she would define it as the song bird, the charming acrobat. Or she might see it as imagination's trick, her own inhibitions stowing away to the corner of obscurity while she modeled nude with confidence and pride. It became the magic of possibility and how the mind could or would react to the suddeness of motion and light

Dwelling On Possbility


she called the scampering shadow
seen from the corner of her eye
a pert sparrow, because

she was wearing rare perfume
and her shoulders became
a valence
showing off the sheer light
of afternoon ---
as she posed naked
for Zadkine.


her mind mellowed
by champagne grapes and grazing
on white slices of Brie,
made her deny

how a silly mouse
flitted across the floor
trying to dodge the downstairs cat
or planning to snatch
leavings from a previous meal.

Or maybe

the mouse was not real
and her modesty shaped
this impulse to find
a niche and hibernate
while she sat exposed
on a stool that possessed
three legs
and a liberal point of view.

Note -- Artwork is called "Pose d'atelier" by French artist, Marie-France Riviere.

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