Irini SpanidouGreece/USAWriting2004
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Excerpt from 'Oriole, Also'

It had been months since he had been able to work. Now, suddenly, images began drifting through his mind: Slipping between storm clouds, a faint sunray ...below, an altar of simple lines ... a Doric entablature without inscription ... Beatrice lying on it. Her left arm trailed down, her throat was arched, her head bent back, her hair flowed away from her face in soft even waves. She was naked. Low on her belly, by the Venus mount, a small crow perched. The background was slate gray. There was no foreground. The painting would come right at you, he thought--Beatrice's face in profile, the crow's face head on. He would call it 'Bea Illumined.' Everything about it, the figurative style, the composition, the title--the Bea/Be pun, the antiquated 'illumined'--the way the idea for it had come, as if decreed by fate, had charge. He did a first sketch right away, adding or refining details as he drew. Beatrice now had larger breasts, fuller lips, less of a chin. The callow, graceful curves of her features and limbs were engorged to convey sensual bliss. Down the blank face of the altar ran a web of fracture lines, hair thin and blurry like blotted ink. The crow had a white worm in its beak, a red thread around its leg with a tag on it that spelled "as it flies" in cramped cursive script. When he was done, it was in the crow that pen stroke by pen stroke his pulse silently beat. Beatrice's figure was glib. It would remain glib, while he worked it in paint.
In the end, he would call the painting 'Corvus'