At the Scottish National Gallery Looking at ‘The Wave’ by Gustave Courbet


acrylics grab at me like fingers and i don’t
think i can breathe. once
a storm rolled in so close that the air got heavy
enough, i thought it sunk the boats because
i couldn’t see them. in every direction
forwards and behind us it was
black so i, being a little i, thought there were
no directions anymore. in the painting if you look

behind the wave, there are more waves
and if you look behind those waves there
is probably a horizon somewhere
where the endless waves meet. the wave
begins to crumble into itself so
slowly that you can hear each droplet
of paint explode into a million little more
black waves. the sky above is mostly

hues of grey and it ripples into small waves itself, those
pooling into air. there is a blackness, too, so quiet
it pretends to be grey. the wind is freckled
with greens, and small cross hatches
of white. if you look closely enough at the sky
alone, you might mistake it for snow caps and
mountains, but it is just sky and sky, and
sky so if you grab at it you’ll only have a fist

of hand. the thunder claps were so close
to one another, that they turned
into a buzz until it went silent. my father ran
into the water and i went behind him
into the water too then yelled i can’t swim,
i still can’t swim. it sounds like bodies,
the rain slapping the water so hard. i couldn’t
tell what was the sound of rain and what was

the sound of lightening. it isn’t
the waves that scare me, its the rain
or the color of the waves, or the foam
barreling over bodies like the under
belly of a whale, and i think

i am there. if you look hard enough where
the wave collapses in over its curved spine and shatters into a
powder, it’s just blackness, and there are things that live inside it.



Gina Fuchs