The Faces We Wear Through Our Art

That time of year again.

I wrote this for a dear friend of mine in 2010. While we have only ever been friends, the intensity of my love and respect for her translated better to this strange scenario. The things she taught me as as an artist, teacher, and elder sister changed the path of my life forever. This gift, the safety to mentally and emotionally unfurl, seems to be the healthiest kind of love. This is how it is among my closest friends.

For the mentors, the muses, the brothers and sisters-in-arms, and the thousands of faces we wear through our art.

~

War rages. The enemy surrounds our young soldier, Cassio, but in the quiet night, just after the autumn rain lets up. As the sky clears, he shifts his helmet to see the heavens. He pulls out a stub of pencil and a piece of paper, finding enough light by the half-moon and stars to write a letter home.

Dear Minima,

Today must be your birthday. I can’t remember the first time I met you. It seemed such a quiet, insignificant thing. And yet, to this day, I ache because I have not seen your face, looked deep into your brown eyes, seen light nestle into your curls, or heard your laughter. When I think of how much strength, how much courage and spark resides in your petite frame, it boggles the mind. I became stronger for you. I became braver for you. I act in wild ways purely to bring back stories to make you laugh. I know if I were to bring you flowers you would scoff at them, as you did when other men have. But ever accepting, ever encouraging, ever inspiring Minima, you found it in your heart to accept the rose I brought you. It is these small things that make me proud to know you, and each day renew my offer my love and undying loyalty.

I feel as though I am a better man in your presence. I am more eloquent. I am energized. You have taught me to embrace darkness as a vital and irrefutable part of my being. When I do great things, when I create beautiful things, I feel their existence is for nothing if I do not show them to you. You tell me I’ve done well, and that I should be proud of myself. You tell me it was all my doing, but my Minima, my muse, I could not have done these things without you. When I set out to achieve my life’s dream, you were with me. When I dusted off my old projects, you were there by my side, as hungry for the results as I was. My love, I accomplished so much with you at my side, and yet you still insist that it was all my doing. You bring out the best of me, my beautiful Minima; the best of my playfulness, the best of my rage, the wildest of my laughter, and the most poignant of my heart. I would kill for you, my muse, I would die for you. Each day I fight, I fight for what we are. For what we believe in.

I keep the flame lit, my dearest, as you asked me to. I guard it carefully. Each day the enemy tries to choke it; to snuff it out. Some days fare better than others. I have been wounded, but I am fit and fine despite the blood on my uniform. I re-read your letters from time to time. Your words never cease to amaze me. Just a few letters, always arranged in the right order. I don’t understand why – or how – you still have doubts about your own work. Surely, if these short missives are what you send off without too much thought, then your more scrupulous and painstaking efforts – the ones you agonize over; don’t think I hadn’t noticed despite my silly, boyish affection – must be. I only wish I knew the right words to give you what you have given me.

My commanding officer doesn’t approve of my buttons — he says that they clink too much — but I don’t care. I treasure each of them, and I’ve read (and even passed on!) some of the books that they came with. I stop and think of you whenever I look down and see the Bridge. A reminder that I’ll always have a friend in your city.

I must return to my duties now. I love you dearly, and I think of you each day. I wish you a wild, inspired, beautiful and glorious birthday, my Minima, for that is everything you are.

Yours truly,

Cassio

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