Imitating Rousseau

by Georgi Gill


I am surrounded by sketches of parrots and you
—turp stained, turps stain, turp-en-tine—
you are experimenting with Rousseau’s tiger
and explaining. Rousseau (and possibly the tiger)
was self-taught and primitive. Prim-i-tiv. 
All art, you say, is imitation. I just copy,
experiment with new words, feel safe with birds,
daubing parrot sketches with watercolour paints.
‘That colour is called ochre.’ Oh-cur, oh-cur, oh-cur.
This parrot is cobalt blue and sunshine yellow,
its beak a stern black. ‘That parrot is a macaw.’
Macaw, ma-caw, maaa-caaaw.
Stretching my arms like wings, I scatter
the paint blocks, bright and wet, on the floor.
My brush pecks a cobalt pan, combs my hands,
tints my arms, my back, then splashes
a perfect yellow sun across my front,
grooms me into life, into colour.
Macaw, ma-caw, maaa-caaaw.
My voice is sharper now, my mouth hardens
and hooks. I stretch, wind my neck out,
cleaving vertebrae from vertebra.
My toes turn claws, grabby, scuttling
on the parquet floor.
Parrot, parquet. Parrot, parquet.
My fingers fuse, blue arm hair thickens,
branches into feathers, into wings,
spread wide, gifted, strong.
Macaw, ma-caw, maaa-caaaw.


Georgi Gill

Imitating Rousseau first appeared in Issue 6 of Bare Fiction Magazine in November 2015. The video recording was made during the Bare Fiction Magazine Issue 6 launch event at Apotheca Bar, Manchester on 26th November 2015.

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