The Surrogate

Picture Credits: Tracy Lundgren

I’ve always wanted to go to one of
those fancy-schmancy exhibition galleries, but because I can’t, a surrogate
observer, in patent leather boots, colorless braids, and a patent leather
jacket I always wanted to wear, is doing it for me.

People milling around here and
there, admiring their own shadows, their attention fixates on each other’s
conversations, the blonde waitress with free champagne, and the famous actress
showing up last minute.

Light filters through the skylights
above like the surprised wings of sparkling fireflies.

My surrogate observer goes straight
to the paintings on display—three in total—the click-clack of her heels is
swallowed by the muddle of discordant thought/desire burdens people wear like
second skin.

Here’s what my surrogate is seeing
with supposedly my eyes, but in actuality my husband Ken’s eyes— the result
of years of emotional imprinting as some self-help book or another so
elaborately explains.

Painting no.1:

A bisque doll…Anne-May doll…ancient
doll… IT’S MY ANNE-MAY DOLL…dangling…NO, SHE’S FLOATING…from ugly-colored…balloon…disgusting
red…THE COLOR OF MY INFLAMED INSIDES WHEN YOU FORCE YOURSELF IN… …only one good
arm… holding on to the thread… grey clouds…weird light… not sunlight… YES IT
IS SUNLIGHT…dead doll…disgusting balloon. 

Painting no.2:

That ugly doll…again… THAT’S MY
ANNE-MAY….orange braids…THAT’S STRAWBERRY BLONDE…big red nose…FROM TOO MUCH
CRYING…badly-drawn diamond tears…THATS SMEARED MASCARA YOU IDIOT…she’s a clown…I
AM NOT…In a town of clowns…THEY ARE NOT CLOWNS…where no one sees her…she’s not
funny…YOU DID THIS.

The Third Painting:

Dead doll…THAT’S ME ANNE-MAY…broken
limbs…YOU CAN’T SEE THE BROKEN HEART…hanging…from a clothes line…all dirty…YOU
ARE BLIND…reflected…in a mirror.

When the surrogate is finally home,
we hold hands, conspire, and we do it.

When Ken wakes up the next day, he’s
unduly pleased. The Barbie he’s always wanted is lying next to him.

I hold on to my balloon, happy too,
for him.