We met in Paris, 1957, long after the wars. He was a wiry man with jet black eyes and a bombastic magnetism that gave me shivers. He asked to paint me, and back then I would do anything for a few francs. I knew the dangers— all confirmed on a hundred canvases scattered helter-skelter across his atelier. Still, I stayed, rooted by the gravity of denial. He placed my head sideways in my lap. He painted my right eye above my left ear, and my rouged lips upside down. All my life, people saw me as a whole woman. Pablo was the first to see me for my pieces, and he took his pleasure in their rearrangement. We slept together once. Afterward, I thought I saw my face in the mirror, but it was only rubble. As I dressed, I found my breasts repositioned vertically, and my vagina behind a vase of yellow chrysanthemums on the table.
Ann Weil is the author of Lifecycle of a Beautiful Woman (Yellow Arrow Publishing, 2023). Her work has been nominated for Best of the Net and appears in DMQ Review, New World Writing Quarterly, Crab Creek Review, 3Elements Review, Gone Lawn, and elsewhere. A former special education teacher and professor, she writes at her home on the corner of Stratford and Avon in Ann Arbor, Michigan, and on a deck boat at Snipe’s Point Sandbar off Key West, Florida. She is part fish but won’t tell you which part. For more information, visit www.annweilpoetry.com.