Lakdasa Wikkramasinghe
Don’t Talk to me About Matisse

Don’t talk to me about Matisse, don’t talk to me about Gaugin, or even
the earless painter Van Gogh,
and the woman reclining on a blood-spread…
the aboriginal shot by the great white hunter Matisse

With a gun with two nostrils, the aboriginal
crucified by Gaugin—syphilis-spreader—the yellowed obesity.

Don’t talk to me about Matisse…
the European style of the 1900s, the tradition of the studio
where the nude woman reclines forever
on a sheet of blood.

Talk to me instead of the cultures generally—
how the murderers were sustained
by the beauty robbed of savages: to our remote
villages the painters came, and our white-washed
mud-huts were splattered with gunfire.