A Woman Defined

Art & Culture by Mahvash Mossaed
Painting by Mahvash Mossaed

A Woman’s Painted Journey

October 28, 2019
When I was a young girl
I danced in a field of wild flowers,
Dreaming of a man
Who would breathe life into my hollow soul.
He would bring laughter and joy.
I was certain he would come
Because I had dreamt this dream
When I was not sleeping.One day a man came up to me.
He gave me his keys and his name.
I invited him to come in.
He sat at my dinner table
and I told him all my secrets.Some angels came.
They giggled and gossiped
about my beautiful white dress
and the tiny flowers hidden in my hair.
They held up the train of my veil
and led us down a path of faith and tradition.The wedding party was all that they told me it would be.
Familiar faces danced about me
as I watched the movie of my life
go in and out of focus.I felt so small next to the man.
He was so large and his world was so vast.
So I hid inside his pocket.I gave him everything to hold,
Some red apples and my heart.I watched him so carefully.
I noticed every hair on his body.
I counted his eyelashes
and drew imaginary lines
connecting his moles
while he lay sleeping.I made him into an angel.
I gave him his wings and a little smile.
I served him obediently like a devoted disciple.
I offered myself to him like a fruit,
hoping that he would peel me thoughtfully
and cut me into delicate geometric pieces,
and eat me so completely that I could be an angel, too.
Life was so sweet with my perfect stranger,
a stranger who never left me.
I gave him a toboggan, a cherry red sweater
and a jar filled with honey.
He gave me a miniature doll house,
a make-believe pony and some colors to play with.
I painted us over and over again.
Our happiness was simple,
Open windows with daylight peering in,
the sound of the tea kettle whistling on an old stove,
the scent of jasmine under moonlight.To please the angel
I gave all that I had,
But my hands and feet grew smaller.
I brought our intimacy into my paintings
and the days melted together into private patterns. 

One day the child appeared.
Not noticed at first,
he entered through a window into our world.
We named him and I rocked him to sleep
In my painted dreams.
The boy was an angel.
The cat was made of porcelain and the flowers were soap foam.
We were all together in a bubble of happiness.The child became a small boy
Who made the make-believe pony come to life.
My heart overflowed with real joy.There were picnics on long summer days.
We ate cold watermelon 
and wrapped ourselves in thick daisy grass.
He crossed his legs,
I crossed my arms
and the angels that watched over us crossed their fingers. In our little garden with the blue tile fountain
and the little orange fish and the chirping birds
and the colorful tulips, we built a wall 
To keep out all things not beautiful.
I painted my miniature doll house
In the brightest, gayest colors.
I played house with tiny tea sets
and little toy furniture.
But all the while I dreamed
of a life beyond the canvas borders.As I painted the story of the man and the woman,
of the cats, of the birds and the boy,
I felt like a traveler passing through.The stranger became a familiar man.
I served him a plate of sweets, pears and
a spring melon full of new seeds.
He put me in a teapot to simmer and boil
While he dreamt his dream alone.But he was my whole world.
How could I dream without him?When did the apples turn green?
When did the sweet tea go sour?
We were quite pleased with life
But our cat had the blues.The man left every morning with his umbrella
after reading his paper and drinking his tea.I thought, “Maybe 
I should bake another pie,
or have another baby.”
I was left alone.
I surrounded myself with birds.
I studied them closely,
In case I needed to learn how to fly.
One time he left the door open
and a cold, hard wind blew through the doll house.
My pictures began to shake.
It froze me deeply
and frightened the cat.
I felt I was a wind-up doll,
Sleeping for years in a felt-lined box
on lace and tinsel.
While looking at my own world
With two glass eyes,
I met the little girl in me.
Who had never grown.When I saw myself in the mirror
I asked, “Who are you?
Are you my mother?
Are you my child?
Are you my nurse or my friend?
Are you my enemy?”
I looked her in the eyes and told her 
To tell me everything that I had forgotten
To ask her before.
For a while I kept this part of me,
the small girl, a secret.
I painted her face to match mine.
I made her pretty too,
With painted lips and penciled brows.
I let her use my name and my husband,
And I allowed her to dream my dreams.But for no reason she began to grow,
And I had a harder time keeping her quiet.
Sometimes she would cry at night inside me
and wake up the man, the boy and the cats.
She became bigger than me
And she took over my house.When I outgrew the doll house
I was not the woman I used to be.
It made the man, the boy and myself afraid.
Women in the neighborhood came to visit.
They wore gold jewelry and flower-patterned dresses
They smelled of the same perfume.
They were made up to look happy and content.
What will they say when they hear
that I have dirty dishes in my kitchen
and that my milk has gone sour?I raised the candle higher to see
All aspects of my self
Were there in the dark.
In my desperate search
the bird came out of the cage.
I could not make her go back.As my soul traveled inward,
I saw myself as the enemy.
I left the man staring at the moon.When I escaped from the painted world
I knocked over the house,
the apples, the man and the cat
even though my body remained there to serve them What happens when you have lived in a doll house,
a bubble, a dream and one day you wake up outside them?Looking back from the impossible horizon,
I saw the man sitting in his chair,
Asking, “Where has she gone,
and will she ever return?”He stood amongst my paintings and sighed,
“That was my wife.”My whole family mourned their losses.
Where was their happy daughter,
The obedient wife and the loving mother?
They all cried.I could not find silence in my own bed
When the mad woman jumped on me
and demanded that I give her a real life. 

Not in here and not in now.
I needed to bleed 
To know that I was real.My duality.
We both bled under yellow sheets.I realized that life cannot be beautiful all the time.
I could not be beautiful all the time.The season changed,
and I emerged with capable arms 
and strong legs.
I am standing now on solid ground.
I have made myself a cherry red sweater
to keep myself warm.

I now replant myself every day
and I will continue to grow.
This I know
this I know.

Mahvash Mossaed
Pamela Grau

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Posted in Mahvash Mossaed, Miscellaneous & Opinion, Poetry |

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