I’m looking at the Philip Guston paintings at MOMA. I read his biography which was written by his poet wife when I was a poetry grad student. I remember the fragile and strained expression of her love for him. The sacrifices. Always living in the huge shadow of his work. Her own work suffered. Her voice failed. She wrote this book. About him. I remember the fear I felt. Like a premonition. I had, at the time, been living with a painter who taught at the university. We were supposed to marry. I remember the painting studio which was also our apt, the smells, the layers of oil and acrylic,  the piles of stretched canvas —- also his abject misery and his moments of profound pure joy that only creating art can produce. It is, in many ways, a self actualized and self expanded high. But also the moods- our moods -which to me was like watching a body of water change temperature and color:  I didn’t love him enough,  I wasn’t paying attention to my  writing, he wasnt making the gallery cuts, he didnt want to be good he wanted to be great. He wanted to be alone or together or alone or together. Ultimately, the relationship failed. Not the love—  but it suffered – it took many blows until we couldn’t recognize the face of love even if it was staring at us in the eyes. Looking back,  I’d like to tell myself not to take the failure so Personally but to say that is almost laughable because of course we see the failure as personal but some things are so much larger and out of your control that no matter what you do you can’t fight the momentum. Bo moved to Nyc. I stayed on the west coast. He eventually got married had two kids became a milder man than who I remembered. Incidentally, he now works at MOMA as a photography curator. I’m wandering around the galleries looking at these paintings and it takes me all back. We didn’t know where we would go, where we’d wind up. And now—now look at us.

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