Picasso’s Self-Portrait at Twenty-six,1907
Cheeks stabbed with dark lines. Tender
mouth any woman would want. Hair
slashed in broad black strokes. His mother
said If you become a soldier, you’ll be a general.
A Spanish Napoleon,don’t you think?
Face a bold triangle. Wide nose and brow.
His mother said,If you become a monk,
you’ll end up as the pope. Yes, wouldn’t he have
been Leo X with mistresses and power?
But his eyes, oh, my dear, you can’t turn
from those eyes. Large and oval with black
centers that absorb the world.
Picasso said, Instead I became
a painter and wound up
Picasso’s Woman with Hat
Femme au chapeau, 1963
She could be Queen Elizabeth the First
with ruffled collar, aquiline nose and starred,
startling eyes, so arresting you stop
to stare back, to question.
What had she to do with Picasso,
our hot and steamy Spaniard, who preferred
Iberian royalty, his women sultry and south
of England’s cold green Iles. Was he so taken
by Matisse painting his wife topped by a wild chapeau,
stirring the artists of nineteen-five into a frenzy,
that he, Picasso, had to try his wide prolific hand
on a lady in a hat? And what of this hat? By no
means a crown, nor a beret, his favored attire. No,
hers a quirky, clownish lid for the red hair
flaming out. Some secret hidden here,
painted with whimsy and care
by a man who cubed his women,
capturing this one in a square.
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