Pierrot’s Face

/ /

The trail to the museum cuts through the woods. Generators hum into the wet earth. A restroom with green tile off the path. Ahead of me, an older man wears a blue and white coat recalling a Napoleonic soldier. In a bathroom stall, he tells me to open my mouth wider, his breath catching as he comes. We compose ourselves. My public face is a carnival mask saying, I am formal and guileless. I, who in my daily life am rigorous and aware of limits, remember the astrologer who told me, Loosening up is your life’s karmic journey. The painting I’m here to see is a small, garden scene: two women speak with Pierrot. Are they gossiping about the affairs of the local priest? Is this a rehearsal for a play without a lesson, a story with deferrals, torches in the dark, and a bridge to a secret grotto? One in shadow and the other in quarter profile, the women respond to his hidden face. They are bored of his ballads. They want to see him sweat. They demand a dance. Untie the pink ribbons from your shoes! Everything and nothing, they want for everything and nothing.