First, I saw you, your smart face impassive, eyes taking in the gallery, your form slender in your camel colored coat, forced ringlets dropping past your shoulders. Then you, her mister, five feet away, your right shoulder to her back, your indoor broad-brimmed hat darkening your pallid face, long hair tucked in your collar, intent on your scrolling text. When she turned and walked, a tiny pause, then you swung round to follow.
“I will not look, not chance a glance at these narcissistic outpourings. A century gone, what is this revolting old man to me? This is for you: I am here for you, it is you I am tied to, I am your dark shadow, my movements tracking yours, we are linked, us, by photon marionette strings.”
A flicker of memory. In the closing hours of the Millennium Dome, I came across two Ladies. Their collared slaves feigned disobedience, not walking to heel but tugging at the end of their leashes, their faces masks of chosen silliness.
“I learned that you drew before walking, were an Old Master by five. A child, your skill shamed your father into abandoning his profession. Here is but the barest cameo, a small snapshot of your intense love affair with paper, and still it exhausts me. To be the greatest, ever, must you have been a man? Did your vast ability need still the certainties of patriarchy, to possess so utterly objects, lovers, daughters as blank slates for your self image, or to reach in and pull out their souls as blocky excrescence?”
At rest, your missus is always perpendicular to your line of sight. She moves off, giving no summons. You return no acknowledgement, do not look up or right, remain intent on your phone. You stand for the briefest moment, before the invisible coupling engages. Trailer-hitched, you set off after, a constant neat knight’s move behind your queen.
“Picasso and paper” exhibition at the Royal Academy.