You and Me and Dora Maar, poem by Amelia Walker

      You wear red shoes to the Picasso exhibition.
      I keep reminding myself, Look at the art...

      Picasso never smiles in photographs
      (appropriate for somebody so famous, so dead)
      so many photographs -Dora's photographs-
      this is her exhibition too.
      Placards on the wall explain how they met
      in a cafe: how she splayed one hand
      on the table, and with the other danced a knife
      round the crevices between gloved fingers
      -a rabid, messy polka.
      Picasso watched her stab and miss
      and keep stabbing as her blood spilled and shone
      -winking garnets, unflinching flesh-
      he asked to keep the glove.

      He painted her as a minotaur,
      he painted her as a bird.
      In a rare snap he catches her -Dora- off-guard:
      small body, dark eyes staring into space,
      she looks sad, she looks shy,
      looks like half the girls who catch my train
      -the cafe story just doesn't seem possible.
      Then I see you, spinning on the heels
      of your winking red shoes,
      -suddenly anything is possible.

      You are Dora Maar the Minotaur -strong,
      sleek, shining creature of mystery and terror.
      I am Dora Maar the bird -flightless, losing
      myself in your labyrinth, wanting
      yet afraid of you -ferocious you,
      legendary you, mythological, unknown
      you (and me?) and Dora Maar,
      two women, three women, a million
      funhouse mirror / images,
      kaleidoscope wormholes and dancing knives.

      * * *

      I am Dora Maar the Minotaur
      -savage, sweaty, lost
      in my own maze.
      I am invented, outdated, a legend, a lie,
      slain and sliced up and squealing
      at the sky where you,
      you are Dora Maar with wings spread,
      Dora Maar the bird,
      circling above me, singing,
      weightless, wondrous, out of reach.

      You are painted blue but laughing,
      rebuilding Guernica as a shiny silver egg.
      You are dipping, diving, darting close
      and far away (a brush of fabric, almost lock eyes...)
      We are two women, so many women,
      dancing careful art conversation
      -proper as a white glove, polished as a knife.


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