The Carrie Allen McCray Prize
Madame Butterfly and
the Down Syndrome Kid
In the movie I never made, Philip enters
the art room, his walk a loping dance
and his hands ever churning in his pockets.
Fade in the orchestration,
Renata Scotto singing Un bel di, vedremo
as Philip contemplates the blank sheet,
the brush, the colors. Follow-focus his hand
as he lowers bristles into yellow paint,
slowly brushes warm light onto the page.
Close-up on his eyes crossed in rapt
concentration as he repeats the process.
Take after take, each stroke is a wonder:
the way it starts narrow from the tip,
widens with the pressure of the brush,
then exhausts itself, like day giving into twilight.
The soundtrack swells with the soprano’s
picture of the sea within her heart,
its wide horizon, glittering harbor. Zoom in
as Philip applies blue, the lilting marks
lapping green into where the yellow
has not yet dried. He curls his tongue forward
to taste the salt ocean breeze.
Butterfly’s voice climbs with her longing, scales
steep-sloped waves, soars into towering clouds.
And now Philip smiles wide, delighted
over the curl action of his wrist as he swirls
white paint into the scene, filling the sails
of Pinkerton’s ship. It is a vessel made of drawing
paper. It surges through choppy waters,
splashes us with sunlit drops of brine.