Aisha Sabatini Sloan is the author of "The Fluency of Light" and "Dreaming of Ramadi in Detroit." She teaches creative nonfiction at the University of Michigan.
A Clear Presence by Aisha Sabatini Sloan
I tried to write an essay about David Hockney and Rodney King once, before King passed away. While doing research, I became obsessed by a particular painting that Hockney had created of a Beverly Hills housewife. Painted one year after the 1966 Watts riots, Hockney's housewife gazes idly outside the range of the portrait. She is miles away from the action, likely captured at a different time of year, but I want badly to imagine that she can hear the sound of sirens. I wish that she could at least smell the smoke.