Picasso & Dora Maar (1942)
Four decades I have lived among the French
as a peasant in a shearling coat
wanders a beach of oblivious sunbathers.
So ill prepared are they for tragedy,
so little do they know of loss, so small
sorrow’s claim on their imagination.
And now, uniform winter upon all of Europe,
Catalans, Normans, Slavs and Walloons
subsumed to unvarying, iron-taloned grey.
Look at my little tomato plant,
withering forth a crooked yellow arm,
a crown of leaves, a tassel of fruit.
Poor Paris, how I pity and depend upon it.
But I trace my lineage to Altamira and Lascaux.
I spring from cave walls and am content.
Women want me as much as I want them.
They desire my money, my brio, my fame,
and I desire their cunts as portals to eternity.
So what if they fought each other over me?
Men fight for women every day. They kill,
like Greeks and Trojans, for sheer beauty.
If I let Marie-Therese and Dora Maar do battle
it is because love is truest when tested by jealousy.
At any rate Dora Maar was a Kafkaesque figure—
whenever I found a water stain on her walls
I worked it with fine pencil strokes until it resembled
a bug of some sort. In this way I transformed
her apartment into a bestiary, or an insect zoo;
in this way I changed her, too.