Reparations of a Body

Old woman, new art.

gorilla sitting on a rock

Past, present, future: body. It’s a reaching place, this blood house, this mother’s form––out, out, she paints balloon bodies bursting with anxieties of desire, washing together in tides of pink, crimson, vermillion. She paints the sound and the fury of the gaping mouth, wild eyes; body like a net, like a sac, flower petal breasts like octopus arms: reach.  

The images shock. The nerve, to dare production beyond her reproductive years. With a nod to decorum, might she not try creeping around the flesh?

Given her advanced age, wasn’t she supposed to have floated into something ethereal by now? Suffusions of light, passive serenity, reflections on a lake? Flowers would be appropriate. Ripe fruit, perhaps. 

With flamboyant irony, she rejects easy ripeness, preferring instead to quarrel with time, to paint within her bodies the unresolved contradictions of her still-becoming self.

I am about to find the past, she says. I feel it, she says.  I own it forever. 

Her mornings continue in this manner, her mourning still undone.


Inspired by Louise Bourgeois, whose life and works are of deep interest to me lately. This morning, I was reading Rosemary Betterton’s article, Louise Bourgeois, ageing, and maternal bodies, published in a 2009 issue of Feminist Review.

Author: Stacey C. Johnson

I keep watch and listen, mostly in dark places.

2 thoughts on “Reparations of a Body”

  1. Not sure if my first comment got to you as I couldn’t see it where your comments usually are. So, just in case, I’ve sent it again. Sorry if you get two copies of it.

    I very much like the piece you’ve written here – it’s really intriguing, as are Louise Bourgeois’s portfolio drawings. I’ve read the article, too, which is both thought-provoking and insightful. When I get to Louise’s age, I hope I manage to achieve something so fascinating. Thanks for sharing this beautiful piece, Stacey. X

    1. Ellie, thank you. I am so glad that you also find her work intriguing. What an inspiration she is. : )

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