You see the women first in this room with its gleaming checkerboard tiles. The singer poised like a renaissance madonna, white collar and bodice lit by angled sunlight flowing through an unseen window. Her right hand caresses a rising phrase as her gaze gathers notes from a slip of music hovering over the curve of her pregnant belly. Intent at her keyboard, face in shadow, the harpsichordist’s head bends as if in prayer. Follow the brushstrokes of yellow ribbon in her hair down to the golden puff of sleeve, her arms distilling sunlight.
Behind the radiant axis of the women, you barely notice the backdrop's paintings, dark windows bringing outer world into inner world:on one side a backdrop of towering elms glowering at dusk, on the other side, a man and crone haggling over desire’s vulgar purchase.
And if it weren’t for the red chair at the centre, the white glimpse of his cuff, you’d almost miss the lute player, his head and broad shoulders like a dark hill against a bright landscape on the harpsichord’s open lid, its tamed harmony of foliage and summer sky. Absorbed, he blends into music, his back to us, audience irrelevant.
Fiona Tinwei Lam
Fiona Tinwei Lam is the Vancouver author of two books of poetry and a children's book. She edited The Bright Well: Contemporary Canadian Poems on Facing Cancer (2011), and co-edited Love Me True: Writers on the Ins, Outs, Ups & Downs of Marriage (2018). Her video poems have been screened at festivals locally and internationally. She teaches at SFU Continuing Studies. fionalam.net
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