Languages Where Green And Blue Are One Colour
(an ekphrastic response to Georgia O’Keeffe’s 1918 painting, Blue Flower)
Layers of silk swish and rub against Sophie’s bare body, like the fingertips of an impatient lover. She lifts the hem of the overskirt and gazes at the understory, the layers from ice blue and seafoam, deepening in chroma and value through ultramarine and sapphire, viridian and emerald. The bodice hugs her ribs and hips like nacre on a pearl, and flares just a little lower than is acceptable; while the neckline reveals the small freckle at the base of her sternum. This piece of haute couture is less a hint at what is beneath it than a neon sign.
Her dresser carefully levers Sophie into the gown, using a crochet needle to knit the bead buttons together down her spine. Sophie slides her fingers around to the nape of her neck and lifts her hair up, letting the air conditioning cool her before lowering her blonde curls. She steps into the canary yellow stilettos and eyes herself in the mirror one last time. Which layer of the underskirt is the exact same colour as her eyes? She can’t decide. But she knows that all the hues of her dress will stand out on the red carpet, calling like siren song.
The red carpet, and the flashes pop as Sophie lights up to greet them. Step out of the car, knees together, nobody else needs to know she’s only wearing one thing. Jewellery doesn’t count. The diamond bracelet on her wrist sparkles as Sophie puts a hand on one hip, showing it off. Step, step, smile, and pose, throw that shoulder back. Behind her she can hear her co-star’s arrival – the screams take on a desperate hysteria. He follows her up the red carpet, stalking his prey, always just behind. On the steps of the theatre they meet. His eyes devour her as she kicks out the hem of the dress, giving the photographers a glimpse of the dichromatic layers beneath. They stand together, answering questions about the film, flattering each other, with his arm around her waist, his hand resting in the curve between her ribcage and hipbone. He leans in, whispers a question. Sophie laughs, the perfect actress. As they turn and enter the theatre, she answers him with a single word. Nothing.
After, when he’s left her in the bathroom stall with a kiss and a Xanax, Sophie smoothes down the layers of the dress, looking at all the blues and greens. She swallows the Xanax, and thinks about how blue and green mean fidelity and permission. The diamond bracelet her husband gave her glitters like ice in the dark. It’ll be in all the newspapers in the morning.