Weeks passed, my heart trembling in his presence as though on the edge of a precipice. Was it wrong of me to read between the lines of his words, his gestures, to something more personal, more sweet, more tender? How could I help it? The eye sees, but often only what it wishes to see. And the trickery we play upon ourselves, this insolent ruse we internally manufacture within ourselves, is effective – we do not see what we have chosen not to see, and in this denial, we do not even recognize the choice.
And so I courted hope, even as I courted him. I indulged his art work, I taught him principles and practices of design, drawing, proportion, style. Already I knew the truth of what I had intuited the first day I saw his sketches, that he would never be a great artist. He had style and precision certainly – the boy could see with fine detail any subject you suggested to him. What he did not see, which only the great artists see and represent, was the essence behind the practical form. The ephemeral, one might say the Platonic form or the archetype, but even these descriptors lessen it. The religious might speak of soul, the poet of the muse, the alchemist of the Philosopher’s Stone. It is impossible to give words to this form, this being which is in all, and it is impossible to show in which lines or brushstrokes the true artist captures it. Yet, instantly one sees if this butterfly has been caught or not, and for young Richard it flew eternally free, outside his grasp.
I began to worry about his eye in other ways because of this lack. For, to me, the playful dance of our emerging relationship must also be seen beyond itself to the realm of the artist’s senses. To read in the words and actions the love that I hoped to inspire and claim, I used the artist’s perception. I hoped that he could also see this, respond to the call, recognize what he may not have the technical skill to reproduce on canvas.
Behind every word we exchanged I saw the silhouette of everything we could be. My heart almost burst with the radiance of this vision. But did he see the same? We progressed so slowly, if at all, the changes or movements towards one another at a snail’s pace, slight iterations that I fed upon but despaired would ever reach their destination.
I became impatient. I had eschewed any more of my manipulative paintings of him, preferring to see the relationship develop its own form as a collaborative effort rather than as an outpouring of my own design. I so much wanted him to meet me on my level and not merely to follow. I was his mentor, a position of sufficient power, I did not wish to manufacture more.
I did not realize, until him, how essentially lonely I had become – or perhaps had always been. I wanted someone to meet me where I truly lived, to reach that level, to commune. I wanted it to be him.
But, time was dragging. I began to fear he would never see the nuances of our relating. He would see the approved and time-honoured mentor/pupil relationship, even accept without hesitation the clear love that an older man may have for a younger without the trappings of sexual and emotional union. Did he see more, did he hope for more, did the shyness in his eyes on occasion or his protestations that he could not have everything he desired, mask a more abiding passion to meet mine?
(c) Helen M Valentina 2015, All Rights Reserved