Performance Art

By Anna Hallett

My husband, John, says I’ve become Baroque. I checked and the internet says Baroque was once defined as bizarre and complicated. I would say, rather, I’m in my Renaissance. 

I was tired of being Minimalist, all hard lines and sharp edges. To my mind, boring and safe. I quit my job as a financial analyst, ditched the black business suit, the nine-to-five and started to make crafts to sell at fairs and online. I suppose that does make things a bit complicated. We can’t eat at the dining room table anymore because it’s covered in fabric, ribbon, glue gun sticks, and bits of this and that. 

I am also leaning heavily into my Dadaism phase, rejecting outdated social norms. I’ve stopped shaving my legs. I’m working my way up to leaving my armpits au natural as well. I choose my clothes for comfort, not to impress others. I let it all hang out—wrinkles, crinkles, and creases; fat, folds, and furrows; lumps, bumps, and bulges—me in all my Rubenesque glory.

I have thrown myself into the delicious art of gardening. I joined the wild abandon of scattered wildflowers with the neat rows of vegetables to create a delightful mash-up of Rococo and Precisionism that makes me laugh with joy whenever I look out the window. John finds the contrast an affront to his more Mondrianesque preference for basic color and directional, horizontal and vertical, design. 

The compost pile in the backyard I started a few months ago to fertilize the garden is a thing of beauty, all black mush and earthy fragrance. Stinky and gross in the best possible way. On top of the pile I throw away the blood red flesh of rotting farmers market strawberries, green celery leaves, orange peels, and yellow, moldy shortcake—a Fauvist palette of vivid color that melts itself into a masterpiece of Abstract Expressionism to rival any Pollack. John can’t comprehend why I bother. He says it’s just a pile of smelly garbage and I should put it out with the trash like every other sane person in the neighborhood. 

I know in my heart he wants me to be happy, but we don’t see eye to eye these days. Everything is a bit out of whack now, very Cubist. We are both looking forward, but we can’t see each other anymore. I want John to be happy too. I think we were once meant to be together, but to continue to have the happiness we wish for each other, we need to paint a new future in separate landscapes better suited to our personal aesthetic. 

Dividing our union is a Surreal canvas of liquifying grief and solidifying serenity. But I am boldly sculpting a new path for myself, an unfettered mixed media journey of freedom and spirituality. I am, as ever, a work in progress.

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Anna Hallett lives in the Anza Borrego Desert writing under the blazing sun and shining stars. Her works appeared in 101 Words, Five Minute Lit, Wicked Shadow Press Anthology “Murder on Her Mind,” and Literature Today. 

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