November 14

Claude Monet (b. 1840)


You remember standing in a museum, surrounding by paintings of lily ponds.

The room housed a special exhibit, combining items from the museum’s own collection and borrowed pieces from around the world.  A retrospective commemorating Claude Monet, the great impressionist painter.

They even had the original of the painting that named the artistic movement:  Impression, Sunrise.

The sun was beautiful in that painting, a bright orange and red fireball, reflected in rippled waters below and spreading across the wisped clouds above.  Small blurred boats sat in foreground waters, with skeleton riggings of larger boats rising in distant fog.  The faint possibility of smoke rose from an indefinite tower on the shore.

You remember how the image dispersed into textured brushstrokes if you looked closer, becoming more definite as you stepped back from the painting.  Your mouth feels dry as you think about that moment.  You taste soot in your mouth.

Outside, you face a new impressionistic painting.  A thick cloud of smog has settled low on the landscape, dulling the colors, casting a blur over every detail.  Skeletons of ruined buildings rise in the distance, thin girders scratching at a dark, lifeless sky.  It’s been weeks since you’ve seen the sun.

You move closer, but find no brushstroke textures in the ashen clouds.  No matter how far you step back, the smog swirls and follows.  The blur refuses to converge into a coherent image.

You supply the painting’s title:  Impression, Apocalypse.