Here, at the table, where Matisse is staring through a red interpretation, I mark the attitude—head bowed, a woman bending to the plate, her hands gesturing toward fruit to serve a straight-backed chair that’s empty. When I eat, alone, it’s imitation. I mimic bending to the plate, like a painting in the painting, in which another, smaller house narrates the repetition. I hardly recognize myself—the one who stood before—tastes, smells, all the textures, silk the red pajamas, the pearls they gave me—my senses like the flower of the courtesans, unfolding. A flight to greater being from small existence. The germ. The rudiment. Now comes the white idea of apron.
Poet, educator and former journalist, Kathleen Hellen is the author of the award-winning collection Umberto’s Night published by Washington Writers’ Publishing House and two chapbooks, The Girl Who Loved Mothra and Pentimento.
Her poems are widely published and have appeared recently or are forthcoming in The Massachusetts Review, The Nation, North American Review, Poetry East, Poetry Daily, the Sewanee Review, Southern Poetry Review, Witness, and elsewhere. She has served as senior poetry editor for the Baltimore Review and now sits on the editorial board of Washington Writers’ Publishing House. Twice nominated for the Pushcart, she teaches in Baltimore.
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