For one of my lecture tasks, I was asked to write a short piece in response to this photograph, Lee Miller’s portrait of painters Leonora Carrington and Max Ernst. I personally quite enjoyed this exercise, and mainly honed in on the features of the elderly man. Another aspect I tried to capture was the unconditional love the woman has for her lover, despite him being significantly older than her and her parents not approving of her love.
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(Thoughts after the encounter)
I am sorry Mother. I am sorry Father. But this “apology” I am delivering does not carry sincerity.
You developed these stress-ridden thoughts because of my selfishness, my unnecessary desire for him. You say my mind is ridden with sin and corruption, my lust in the grasp of his linocut hands, each line ranging in thickness and length. I don’t care that the skin on his forearms are beginning to sag like stretched bubble gum or his eyes are more sunken, floating like a buoy in a wishing well. It was only five minutes ago, but I miss running the smooth tips of my fingers along the canyons in his face. I miss his smile, his teeth yellowing from the incessant intake of tobacco, although I told him to cut down on the cigarettes, his lips always taste of nicotine and sometimes of lingering liquor.
I’ve only known him for five months, or is it six? You say I am naïve and reckless; I’ll be the talk of the town and gossiped amongst Mother’s book club friends. They’ll laugh in hysteria at the thought of even associating myself with a man twice my age, asking if they could have him instead. Well… he’s mine. Every inch from the greying curls on his head to the moulded bunions in his feet, which I could see were inconveniencing him due to the slight limp back to his car. I think about the lip diminishing smile he gave me before pulling out of the driveway and disappearing. He kissed me with those chapped lips, the dryness embracing my “smooth completion”, as he’d call it, “Like a porcelain doll polished frequently”.
I don’t feel guilt for it. I really don’t. I’m not going to apologise for this relationship, but instead I apologise that you have been cursed with such narrow-mindedness, with such shallowness that you cannot see the beauty within my love and cannot accept his presence. It’s unfortunate really, I am almost twenty-five and cannot decide who my heart belongs to, instead you both clip my wings and barricade me behind cell walls, treating my maturity as infanthood and my love as fetishization.
If you cannot accept him. Mother. Father. I shall simply leave…