Lobster for Lunch

Painting of tropical beach scene

I’ve spent years trying to read the stories behind this scene my mother painted. An older couple sits before a lavish feast. Their posture is stiff—unnaturally posed and primitively painted—with hands hidden below the table. Do they even have hands? How will they eat? Meanwhile, the lobster has such enormous claws.

Outside the hut, mola panels flap on a line next to a basket of yarn. Mola art is made from layers of colored cloth. The mola artist clips through the layers to create colorful designs. By placing molas at the center of the composition, my mother seems to say that truth lies below the surface. She invites the viewer to clip through to a deeper layer.

The photographer on the left nearly vanishes from the edge of the frame. He is there to reinforce the message that the world we see is a superficial layer, the cheap snapshot of a casual tourist.

In the lower right corner of the canvas, a monkey watches with sleepy eyes. She buries her nose in a glass and languidly holds a half-peeled banana that resembles… ah, hem! Well, this is my mother speaking, so I’ll leave it at this. I imagine her sighing with exasperation: “Stop with the silliness! To get to the real stuff, crack open the shell, clip away the fabric, peeeeel.”

Of course, I had to write a poem about “Lobster for Lunch.” It’s in my collection, Secret Formulas & Techniques of the Masters, and I’m so pleased that the painting is featured on the cover.

The book is available from Brick Road Poetry Press and other booksellers. Here’s more info: Secret Formulas & Techniques of the Masters.

Image @ Louise Craven Hourrigan

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