Madame Matisse

by Liz Trew

Mon Dieu! Matisse – the master of colour…
my fluttering fan and oval face
a riot of pinks and greens in Woman with the Hat.

I am dressed as a matador in The Guitarist.
He kicked his easel and ripped off my costume
as I wouldn’t sit still. Later we laughed about that.

I sit demure, elegant in another hat
then I emerge as Madame Matisse
a bold-green line dividing my face.

Mostly he liked me in black and white
to balance his clashing explosions of colour
while I endured outbursts of another sort –
his doubting, weeping, violent self.

He began to paint nudes – vermilion dancers
and a Blue Nude with Straw Hat. A huge Pink Nude
almost falls in my lap.

He moved to the silvery light of Nice. I saw him less and less.
During the war I joined the Resistance
while he painted paradise in his appartement

rearranging his voluptuous models and nudes
and tending his beloved birds:
the long black plumage of widow birds,
the blinding whiteness of his doves.

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