Like a Clyfford Still Painting

William Doreski

Tattered like a Clyfford Still painting, my birthday unfolds on a snowdrift and settles there. I could use a glass of wine the color of starlight, but the murmur of competing voices keeps me sober. Maybe later in front of the TV I’ll cough up the stone in my throat. Maybe when I’m old and bankrupt I’ll find a stick of driftwood the color of bone and adopt it. When a friendly museum offers to frame and hang my birthday in a gallery I’ll blush with the honor and accept a handshake or two. Until then I’ll try to keep a straight face while women repulsed by my wrinkles and sour expression insist I resemble Richard Gere. I don’t know Richard Gere well enough to spot him on the street, and have never sat through any of his movies. But I’m sure his birthday also resembles a Clyfford Still painting, maybe one of the white on white ones from the early Fifties. Mine looks darker, more like the orange on black ones of the same era. Regardless, it’s the irregular forms, like rags after a bomb blast, that define me. Maybe every artist feels this tearing and ripping on their birthday. Maybe not. Maybe just the convergence of color and form excites and incites them to excel.