Rosemary Therkelsen – Provence


Initiator Artist: Rosemary Therkelsen
Artwork Title: Provence
Medium: Watercolor
Price:  $300

Responder Author: Stephanie Rickman
Writing Title: Route Du Sel (Salt Road)


There is a beach that sits along the Route du Sel on the French Mediterranean Sea. Sebastian watches the rhythm of white foaming tongues rise and fall upon the shore. He thinks about the woman whose name he never knew. He thinks also, about Celine, whose absence haunted him since the day her violet snorkel washed up to shore ten years prior. They were both sixteen. Their love had just begun to ripen; the flesh of the rose tender and pure. He was left raw and unfinished.   

The woman whose name he did not know appeared on the beach one Autumn day, as he slept on the cool sand. Sweet smells drifted out of the woods while he dreamed of mammoth whales washing up to shore, their low hollow cries calling him to the deep.

He awoke to the frenzied motion of sand and feet. The wind sent a purple umbrella tumbling down the beach. Pursuing it was a woman with long sable hair and a silky pale complexion. He was twenty five now.  The woman was much older; near forty he thought. A kink in the air sent the umbrella in his direction and he tumbled to retrieve it, catching it by a rib in the canopy. 

“Le Mistral” said Sebastian. “Yes, the winds of the Rhone” she said.  Her presence nullified every intruding thought. She was stunning in a way that was new to him; a bond that knew nothing of age or convention. Her curt brevity drew him further. She wore a thin belted waist dress with little blue flowers.  He found her plain, even ordinary. 

Yet, he couldn’t help following her down to the plane tree at the edge of the sand. He tried to catch up. “What’s your name!” he shouted. “That’s not important!” she turned and stood for a beat. The woman looked wild and beautiful. Then she laughed, headed towards the water and dove in without undressing. The thrill of it compelled him to follow and he searched for her under the water. The slickness of her white thigh passed over his arm and they both emerged from the tide laughing and smiling; their heads bobbing as they listened to the sound of lapping water. 

“I want to know you” Sebastian urged. 

“I don’t want to be known.” She dove under and emerged again where things come together and depart. 

Sebastian found the woman under the tree with a book. She angled soggy pages towards Sebastian. “I want to show you something.” She read the passage:

Long I sought for the earth’s hidden meaning; 

Long as a youth was my search in vain.

Now as I approach my last years wanting,
My search I begin again. 

When Sebastian looked up, the woman was gone. He searched for her through the stone ochre alleys of the town and thought about the mystery of deep sea whales singing to each other into unknown depths. It is then he loved her most.


Copyright © 2024 by Stephanie Rickman