Why didn’t he paint a scene sun-kindled
and warm as the title, not this room
where she sits, posed like a conundrum, her
body forced into incongruent angles
of shame and desire: the awkward cant
of her back as it stretches from the floor
to the bed, her face forced downward,
hidden by a cap of pelt-black hair she ties
each day in a tight-fisted knot on top of
her head? Her blouse a palette of icy
milk and mauve shadow, shown against
a pulled-off sheet that’s somehow
glaciated down to the floor, where she poses
as if divided into hemispheres: one
where the neck of her blouse casts a shady
vee inside the cleft of her breasts; the
other where a dark delta meets the bare
landscape of her thighs. Though she aches
in all the places where this posturing pulls
her body awry, she knows it’s a gesture of love.
Her skin glowing with the same ghostly light
as all his inconsolable houses.
This poem was first published in In the Body of Our Lives, by Sixteen Rivers Press.
Jeanne Wagner is the winner of several national awards: most recently the Arts & Letters Award, The Sow’s Ear Chapbook Prize and the Sow’s Ear prize for an individual poem. Her poems have appeared in Cincinnati Review, Alaska Quarterly Review, Shenandoah, Southern Review and
Hayden’s Ferry. She has four chapbooks and two full-length collections: The Zen Piano-mover
winner of the Stevens Manuscript Prize, and In the Body of Our Lives, published by Sixteen
Rivers in 2011.
The Ekphrastic Review
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