Because I am an overachiever, I decided to extend my Ekphrastic poems into the month of May. I have never attempted to translate the emotion from paintings, drawings, sculptures, or other visual works of art into words. The challenge will require me to dig deep to tap into the passions such works of art create inside a person. Most of what I write will be speculative. There will be times when I will place myself into the mind of the artist. Still other times, I will express the emotions I experience gazing at the work of art. If I get creative, I might even tell the story from an element within the artwork. This Ekphrastic poem is based on a painting by John Singer Sargent entitled Portrait of Madame X.
Portrait of Madame X
My popa was a Confederate soldier
Before a Yankee shot him dead
Mama was a New Orleans Creole lady
Who some how got it in her head
Paris society was where we ought to be.
What is a girl without money supposed to do?
I married the old banker tice my age
From the beginning the suspicion only grew
I married him for his wealth,
And lost my liberty.
My disgrace started with the artist and his brush
He claimed my beauty was so classic
And he wanted to paint my pale skin without blush
The would be black in contrast to my white skin
If only I would agree.
My mistake was in saying yes
I thought people would think me stylish
But I must confess
We might have taken things too far
Hanging in the salon for every eye to see.
The rumors set the tone for the scandal
And the hideous portrait began.
Rich husbands send their brides into excile
When everyone gossips about
Her open infidelity.
Molly Shea is an accomplished fictional short story writer from Indiana who writes short stories and novels about a fictional town called Tecumseh. To read more of her short stories and adventures, click here.
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