My Meninas and the Moon

By Liane Strauss Liane Strauss

I would try to do it in my way, forgetting Velázquez . . . .  So, little by little, I would paint my Meninas . . . they would be “my” Meninas.
                                           — Pablo Picasso

My meninas are as changeable as the moon.
Black and white and in color.
Happy, sad, and how many words there are
for red enough and the pallor of skin.

Their moments of verisimilitude do not outweigh
their flashes of pathos. Whole days go by
when they cannot appreciate the humor
of which the dog is one manner, the dwarf another.

My meninas are not puppets, but puppet theaters.
That it is the puppet master who draws the curtain
in the stairwell is pure whimsy on my part.
A minuet of despair, andante of foolhardiness.

How many times have I tried to explain these differences,
the sting of  joy, a lilt of crimson,
the dark and the light of the moon not the moon,
the soul but a sphere predisposed to rotation?

The man in the doorway. The dog who lies sleeping.
These are my meninas. The sun in the mirror.
The sun and the moon and the man behind the easel,
mostly invisible, like the pictures on the wall.

The moon is not more changeable, however,
than they, my meninas, who never stop changing
and waiting on the children of the sun
and of the moon, for they will always be

my meninas, their eyes of every minim on the palette,
blue and tragical, white on white against
a black ground, until the moon sings every shape
and shade of gray from hope to ample. And again.

Source: Poetry (April 2014).

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This poem originally appeared in the April 2014 issue of Poetry magazine

April 2014
 Liane  Strauss

Biography

Liane Strauss is the author of Leaving Eden (Salt, 2010) and Frankie, Alfredo (Donut Press, 2009). She is the head of poetry in creative writing at Birkbeck, University of London.

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Poem Categorization

SUBJECT Arts & Sciences, Painting & Sculpture

Poetic Terms Ekphrasis

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Originally appeared in Poetry magazine.

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