blackbirdonline journalSpring 2023  Vol. 21  No.3
an online journal of literature and the arts
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Zuihitsu of Los Angeles in Conversation with David Hockney

At 25, I dined with David Hockney in San Francisco. Owlish and attentive, he must’ve thought
I was the girl of a rich collector. Maybe I was.

A decade later I move to LA for want of the teal and blue ripple of Hockney’s pools. How the
light shimmers, surfacing potential.

I dive into the gaudy dance.
As if morning stirs a cocktail of rum and blue curaçao and the whole day lounges.


As if beckoning for a pool boy is enough
to live beyond the bus line of maids walking up the hills every morning. Men selling
bags of oranges on street corners. The squeeze of families into flats on the flats
somewhere in East LA.

Hockney’s Portrait of an Artist (Pool with Two Figures) sold for over $90 million.

The LA I know
is Schwarzenegger pumped up and oiled. Swagger in sweatpants. It’s 75 miles
of Pacific where the sun calls it quits every evening. It’s heady. It’s headstrong.

I will lose my head in LA. Fall in with the in. Let the sun burn a hole in my horizon. It’s impossible to see beyond the glint of cars on the 101. The distraction of light pooling at your feet.

My daughter plays with Steven Spielberg’s daughter. When I come to pick her up,
he serves me an espresso.


With time, Hockney empties his pools of pink limbs, naked torsos, leaving just a splash or swimmers submerged, unseen.

The LA scene is buoyant with currency.
Yet, it’s easy to drown in LA—
like William Shatner’s first wife.

Our pool guy swirls his net, dragging for leaves before they clog the drain
and make that gagging sound.

Eventually Hockney erases the human form from his pool paintings.
In one, a bright fuchsia ring floats over the pool’s bubbled surface.
In others, a diving board looms, casting a shadow.
Then he quits the blue
to paint the green, green of Normandy.

I watch a woman snatch kumquats from a bush near my house.
On the sidewalk, I leave figs, lemons, avocados from my garden.
Come Halloween, white vans of costumed children from East LA arrive on our street.
We buy bags and bags of candy. It’s never enough.  

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