At the Movies with Monet
(I, Claude Monet at the Tivoli)
Naturally, we go to an art house.
Monet remembers the first movies
by the Lumière brothers. I assure
him his art will be shown in full colour.
It’s almost dark, nearly quiet
fifteen minutes before the show.
Few couples chat, preferring to sit
side-by-side staring at their private
mini-screens. No one notices Monet.
He jiggles my seat, nervous
without a smoke. Mon dieu! he says.
Relax, you’ll be great, I promise.
Pffew! he adds. I despise the opinions
of the press and the so-called critics.
I tell him he coined the motto of our times.
A loud ringtone at the end of our aisle
makes him jump. Sacré bleu! he explodes.
When a woman’s voice over speaker phone
tells us she’s had an upsetting day,
Claude leaps to his feet.
I tug hard on his famous tweed jacket,
make him sit. We’re both relieved
when Bergman’s Death appears
on screen in his black cloak, warning us
to turn off cell phones.
A few minutes into the film, Claude
pulls out his handkerchief. It’s him,
all him in his own words, voiced
by an actor who gradually shifts his voice
to the crackle of an old man. I don’t sound
that old, Claude grumbles.
First we see the caricatures he was
selling at age fifteen when he met Boudin.
He watched the well-known painter
at work, capturing the dazzling sunlight
on women with parasols and frothy dresses
enjoying a day at the beach.
Magnifique, Claude whispers.
Remembering the man who inspired him
to paint outdoors for the rest of his life,
he wipes his eyes.
Alarie Tennille graduated from the University of Virginia in the first class admitting women. She’s now lived more than half her life in Kansas City, where she serves on the Emeritus Board of The Writers Place. Her latest poetry book, Waking on the Moon, contains many poems first published by The Ekphrastic Review. Please visit her at alariepoet.com.
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