by Lucas Rucchin
The painter has remained in this grove for six-hundred, thirty-seven days. He had journeyed here for inspiration, new colours to spur the muse, but was met with yet another crowd to please. If he can receive praise from the critics, surely he can cull the same from lowly trees?
The painter drinks praise like heady wine, chews it for years, as do the cattle of the Tiber plains chew on grass: the eyes around his works at the Museo Campano, the rows of waiting legs seeking his hand at the Galleria degli Uffizi—he swims in such things. This grove, however, with all its quiet greenery, has never spared his pieces a word.
Every morning, the young artist sweeps the forest mire off his clothes, studies the foliage, the twining flora, the sturdy stalks of trees, and addresses them with the sun in his eye: “I promise,”—his left hand has already grasped and fondled the round-tipped brush, and his right, a pencil—“today, I will entertain you all.”
So he perches the brush on his canvas and his dreams assume control of his limbs; the muse, now, graces him with a reverie, and handles his hands from strings in the clouds. The sun has nearly finished its arc across the sky when the painting is complete. This piece surpasses the one created yesterday. It is rotated for all to see.
His voice echoes at dusk: “Regard, trees. Another masterwork by Signore Demonte, who is so honoured to be in your patient presence. Likewise, you have the privilege of being in mine, for tirelessly over the breadth of two years have I worked to perfect my craft to your liking! I ask that you now fulfill this privilege, humbly so, by serving your duties as my watching audience.”
The trees are quiet. Where are the enticed eyes, the polite claps, the arms folded in captivation? His pencil nearly breaks in his grip. “Well? Are you looking? Aren’t you pleased?” His gaze probes the motionless audience. Hours pass as he stands in anticipation, and anticipation turns the tone of his voice to thunder. “My mind has been emptied, my ideas exhausted to satisfy, and you daren’t speak at all? Have you really nothing for me, again?”
The sky is dimming and the painter’s legs are begging for slumber. “Tomorrow! Tomorrow, you infernal trees--you will be forced to break your silence! I can see it already. . . my new piece. . . you won’t. . . you’ll have to see it. . . and—”
Demonte is being cradled by sleep. His work is tossed into an ever-swelling pile by the foot of one quiet tree. In his dreams, the trees have eyes, the flowers dance to his strokes, and he floats on the wind. The painter has remained in this grove for six-hundred, thirty-eight days.
Lucas Rucchin is a grade ten student at West Point Grey Academy situated in Vancouver, British Columbia. He is an aspiring writer who enjoys prose grounded in reality and the human condition. Surging Tide Magazine is his first medium of publication.