On Serve: Steffi Graf and Mark Rothko

I picture her alone before a late Rothko painting, his darkening palette. Steffi’s favorite color was black. Rothko’s floating color field, “a universe for viewers they do not have in the real world.” Black a type of protection, a barrier against stalkers, reporters, celebrity, noise. Black a tunnel, a cave, a hole, a portal. The inevitable turning towards light, the quest for tennis perfection. How do you enhance a gazelle-like sprinter’s speed, a skidding knifed backhand that rarely missed, the power and precision of the greatest forehand in the history of women’s tennis? Steffi racing fast forward to whatever was next: the next serve, the next point, the next changeover, the next tournament. Black the color of mourning, of grief: the father she loves in prison for tax evasion related to Steffi’s earnings, that crazy misguided stalker assailant stabbing Monica Seles to help Steffi become #1. Emotions “intimate and human.” Limitless space, the sublime. “Silence is so accurate.”

 

by David Linebarger

 

This is part of an ekphrastic, non-fiction series from author David Linebarger. Follow the series through Sunday September 9.

 

Linebarger author photo.jpgAfter leaving a career in music (classical guitar) because of a hand injury, David Linebarger earned a Ph.D. in English at the University of California, Davis. Currently a Professor of Humanities at Northeastern State University in Tahlequah, Oklahoma, his publications include scholarly articles on Wallace Stevens and Modern Music, poetry in over 25 journals, and two chapbooks: War Stories (Pudding House) and Bed of Light (Finishing Line Press). A national tournament tennis player in his age group, his current project includes a series of nonfiction prose poems on famous tennis players.

 

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