Growing things in Farmer’s Kitchen- art and fiction

20 Dec
Farmer's Kitchen By Ivan AllbrightSource: http://www.flickriver.com/photos/maulleigh/4161478770/

Farmer’s Kitchen By Ivan Allbright
Source: http://www.flickriver.com/photos/maulleigh/4161478770/

 

Farmer’s Kitchen by Ivan Allbright. Sometimes also called: Beautiful.

Look at it, isn’t this piece just fascinating?

I could keep staring at the patterns, the colours, the details for forever. If I wasn’t too busy drowning into the expression on the man’s face, of course. Is he sad, tired, lonely, wistful? What is he? What’s the story behind this piece? What’s the story he carries in his heart?

I suppose these questions really show why art is so engaging. It makes you wonder, makes you imagine, makes you consider things that would have not even crossed your mind otherwise. Best art haunts you, it sticks to your mind like a post-it note and reminds you of all the realisations and feelings you experienced when you witnessed a good piece.

This piece definately did that to me. I could not stop wondering about the man. That’s why I wrote his story:

 

Growing things

I never was handsome.

– You wouldn’t make a model, you said when you saw me for the first time, but being a farmer must be a calling to you. Ha, even your nose is like a potato, a hairy and bulky tuber!

I let you say things like that because you  always laughed at them, and your laugh was like a choir of cheerful jingle bells.  How I miss your laugh!  It was the happiest part of you. I wish I could hear it once more, bursting out and bringing these dusty rooms back to life.

I wonder what you would say about me now. Often I imagine you appearing from the rain, standing on my doorstep with smudged make-up and chapped lips, tears running down your face. You would smile and pretend they’re raindrops. You would have a toothbrush in your hand and a backpack.  In my dreams you always look like this, oddly beautiful. In my dreams I look at you with bright lover’s eyes.

I miss you but maybe these kind of dreams should be kept shut away, in my little treasure chest of fantasies.  Because with you, these kind of dreamy scenes of love would only be an illusion. Reality would hit them hard, so hard they would be broken to pieces by your high-pitched shrieks:

“Why on earth are you wearing my old dress? And my apron too?”

“And look at you, you’ve got potato peels stuck all over it!”

“And your hands are all scratchy!”

I’m wearing your dress because once it smelled like you. Just after you had run away. I could smell the cigarette smoke, your sweet-tinted sweat and Chanel’s No. 5. And so I slipped it on, to have you near me. Now it’s lost the smell of you, the softness of your skin. I’m losing you too, the round shape of your face, the wild gestures of your hands.,, I hope this dress can bring them all back. And the potato peels… I’ve been cooking a meal for us. For the past five years. I’ve set the table too. Come in, please! Would you?

Would you? That’s what I wonder every day. Would you love my face now,  would you love it still now that it’s full of deep raisin lines? Would you love my awkward hands that resemble the dry, cracked ground I try to tame? Would you take my hand, hold it gently and not flinch at the touch of my rough, scaly skin? Would you dive into the quarry of my heart, dig out all the sharp stones of misery and grind them into soft sand? Would you?

I will never find answers. I don’t expect to. But I cannot be moved, I cannot forget, I cannot leave like you did.  I’m a work horse on this farm, I stay here faithfully even after everything’s dead. I go about my routines, try to make things grow, I set the table for two, wait for you in vain and then allow the cat to take your seat. The cat meows and looks at me in amusement, spoils the soup with its hairy paws. Oh well, you always disliked soup anyway. Maybe you started to dislike me too, or was it just the solidity of these walls you feared? When the house squeaked and creaked at night, did you fear that our security was falling apart? If I lean into a same wall for too long, it crumbles under my weight, that’s what you always used to say. I have to keep on moving, you mumbled many times. Did you plan your departure already, even then?

I suppose you were right. You leaned into me after all, you got close, so close I could feel the even warmth of your breath and the fast rabbit’s pulse on your wrist. Then you left and I crumbled. I turned into rocks scattered around this house.  I started to carry the colours of beetroot, carrot and potato on my face, blending into the lonely landscape of abandoned vegetable crops. I look like this house more and more every day. I’m empty like this house and my joints creak like the doors that are not opened often enough to let someone in. I’m old, draughty and unhinged like my kitchen. Our kitchen. I’ve become a bit skewed, this house was built sweked and so was our love. Shouldn’t we have known better from the start?

And maybe one day I will fall apart, turn into ash and fire and burn with this house. Or maybe I will become a solid part of these worn floors, one of the blind planks. Then I would find oblivion. But before I do, I want to forgive you. I used to think that the only passion I ever got from you was a passion fruit. You grabbed it once during a fight and threw it at me with blazing eyes. It hit me hard on my lips like a violent kiss. I didn’t mind the bruise, but I hated you for ruining a perfectly good fruit. I loved all things growing, and you laughed at me for this. You used to stand and look in wonder as I tended my garden.

“GROW UP! GROW UP!!”  I shouted at you, during our fights.

Grow up, just grow into something, into anything. Grow so I can love you too. Why did I left that tint of affection unsaid?

Now that it’s too late I understand  that you gave me so much more than one poorly aimed fruit and bruises on my heart. You gave me totally insensible love, the most honest kind of love, the one that doesn’t follow any planned paths. Stubborn kind of love that just comes like a wave and swipes over you, one that doesn’t come early or late or when it’s asked. It just comes and takes you.

And I loved you, you have no idea how much. Despite your poor temper, your chain smoking and the fact you sometimes treated me like a foreign object, I loved you.  Because I remember those other times… the time you snorted juice through your nose because I made you laugh so hard. The time you insisted on making pancakes for me in order to make up for some silly comment, and somehow you managed to set the frying pan on fire. Your cheeks were burning red as you panted and panicked, trying to figure out how to save the pancakes and not cause an inferno. I remember you sliding around the kitchen like a lost ice cube. I came to you, and you melted under my touch. And all was calm again.

And always, as I looked at you, I felt a weir lump swelling inside me, like a sponge that sucked all air out of me. It was just a feeling that never quite translated into words or proposals, but it was a strong feeling. It made me gulp and shiver. It was love, I recognise now. Our  bittersweet love that didn’t make any sense, totally incomprehensible, maybe doomed from the start, but just too beautiful and pitiful to be shooed away. You gave me that love and you forgot to pack it away and take it with you when you left, and for that I’m thankful.  It still lingers here, keeping me company. As I stand in the middle of my fields and look at the light creeping up, stretching its hands above the horizon to push the darkness away, I feel it. Our love, the memory of it mixing with the fresh light of dawn. And look, what’s that? A little growing seedling, how odd. I had forgotten what they look like. But now I remember. They look beautiful. They look like you but funnily, they look like the future too. They look like hope.

Your turn. What does the piece bring to your mind?

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