I stood, transfixed. The painting had a magnetic aura that refused to release me, it was bigger than itself, encompassing, like it had broken free from the frame and I was standing alone in the arid wasteland, pieces of my abstract life shattered and scattered into the surrounding wilderness.
‘The elephant from Celebes has sticky, yellow bottom grease’, I tried to say ten times real fast in my head.
I’d learned from a book that this German children’s rhyme was the inspiration for it, this big, weird metal monster with horns and a neck like a dryer vent surrounded by a desert, boobs front and centre trying to steal the show, a headless torso depersonalised, objectified, nullified. Fishes swimming in the dirty sky, phallic cacti and a gloved hand, finger lazily extended in the direction of the sun reminding me that it’s I who casts the shadows, but none of this- not even the boobs- could distract me from the glaring bum hole right in the middle of the painting.
After staring a while, a quiet realisation dawned on me, my obsession with this anus signified a need to look inside myself. It wouldn’t be easy, introspection was terrifying, I’d be crushed and smothered by a powerful peristaltic resistance forcing me back into reality, but that’s where I needed to go in order to escape the vast, lonely emptiness of the desert and the spectacle of the flying fishes or the invitation of the boobs- that bum hole.
Claire Hampton is a neurodivergent fiction writer from Teesside. Her work has been published/is upcoming in Versification, The Daily Drunk, Crow & Cross Keys, Full House Literary Magazine, Selcouth Station Press, Imperial death Cult, and the Writers Retreat U.K Anthology.