Venus for Sale
Venus of Willendorf, artist unknown (Austria) 28,000 to 25,000 BC.
Stone chipped away until all that is left is what is needed.
Pendulous acorns of desire, a belly button to bring the eye down.
No feet, no hands, no resistance.
Rows tightly binding the head down. No mouth, no eyes.
And fits all in the palm of your hand. Convenient to carry,
perfect shape for pleasuring.
Venus de Milo, sculpture by Alexandros of Antioch, (Antioch). 130-100 BC.
We’ve streamlined your desire without taking away
anything important! Everything the right
proportion to please. Satin skin (we’ve polished to neutrality),
tunic just waiting to be tugged free.
That hole under her right breast? Not a flaw!
When removing her arms to better accommodate
your lust, (she was only offering an apple anyway)
we filled in that hole by her heart.
Venus di Medici, by Cleomenes(?) (Greece). 100 BC.
Such sweet buttocks, like winter peaches!
And if you prefer the object whole, then here’s your girl.
The arms are placed to tease, skin shining like dew.
Stripped of paint and cloth,
without the choice of blonde hair and red lips
we’ve brought you that much closer to the ideal.
Imagine the most amazing, beautiful treasure in the world.
Imagine the most divine, unattainable, perfect
ambrosial aspect of sensation.
Now she’s yours to take home.
The Birth of Venus, by Sandro Botticelli (Italy). c. 1486.
White as lucky stones, soft
and long haired. That hair that has so much to give
it reaches out on its own. Another organ. Another limb.
Tugging your eyes toward her.
And the breasts. Gifted.
Cups of milk just poured. Icicles on a hot day.
They look straight at you, unlike her eyes.
But, oh dear Lord, that hair you can hold on to.
The Toilette of Venus, by Francois Boucher (France). 1751.
Here we give her to you domesticated, no strings attached.
Just place her anywhere and see her glow;
her skin is polished to match your table and lamp!
No upkeep either because she comes
with her own putti, those nameless babies,
and a plethora of shiny baubles to keep her busy.
In fact, we carry this one in multiple versions if you’d like two.
Birth of Venus, by Alexandre Cabanel (France). 1862.
Perhaps this is what you were looking for all along.
You crave the first moment of desire
when it rises and fills until it explodes
This flesh of pink and white marzipan
rising fresh from the sea. A vanilla latte
leaning out just for you. Demurely shaded gaze
hidden behind the triangle
of arm opened, breasts of snowy down turned out
like handles hovering over hair like glistening
taffy, spread out beneath, a shiny wrapper
Venus Rising from the Sea, by Gustav Moreau (France). 1866.
Yearning for that heavy hand? Do you want to feel
how hard she can hit? She will let you love her
if you worship her. Do you ache to give and not receive?
You can’t give enough for her to ever look at you.
This one is costly, but so worth it. Unlike you –
you will never be enough.
Venus Verticordia, by Dante Gabriel Rossetti. (Italy) c.1868.
Still not satisfied? Need a challenge?
This turner of hearts will reel you in.
You get the hair. You get the breast staring right at you.
You get the spear to the heart. Love without fear of loving.
Love without fear. Lips like blood-stained honeysuckle.
Take her apple, she’s giving it to you.
Follow that dart down and you’ll end up amid the roses.
Credit cards accepted.
The Birth of Venus (1 of 6), by Odilon Redon (France). 1912.
They’re selling fast, but
I have a few left. Here you can have her in a dream.
Sit back with whatever you choose to smoke
and get comfortable. Let her into your soul –
she’ll be there waiting. You know you want
to follow her back through to the other side
before birth, to when we all mingled in smoky, hazy flesh
and copper-tinted haze. When you and she were one.
Taste the salt on your tongue.
Uncertainty of the Poet, by Giorgio de Chirico (Italy). 1913.
I know your type.
The suffering monk hardened but cool,
hot in all the wrong places at all the wrong times.
You don’t want to take off your hair shirt to come
into the bed. Leave your worries.
Put your soul on the last train and pick your fruit.
No need to wash.
Venus Restored, by Man Ray (USA). 1936.
You liked that one? I’ve got another.
We saved this one from the war. Just the right colour
to go with anything. These are so hard to keep;
I know you’ll want one too. We have quite a few replicas
if you’d like to tell your friends.
Processed for your pleasure until all that is left is what is needed.
Pert apricots of desire, a belly button to bring the eye in.
No feet, no hands, resistance subdued.
Rows tightly binding the flesh in. No mouth, no eyes.
Just imagine what you could do with this one.
Short on cash? We even carry this in postcard size.
Everyone wants her; why not get one too?
Venus of the Rags, by Michelangelo Pistoletto (Italy). 1967.
You really are a tough customer. I don’t understand.
I’ve given you desire, heaven and plain hot sex.
You can pick from priceless to postcard. Versions
of Venus are stacked here in the finest variety since Eve
first ate the apple. Here I give her to you in one of the more unpopular
poses. Perhaps you are looking for her existential pain.
Take her then. She bothers me. Junk in the corner.
I’ll give you this one for nothing; I’ve got a few.
Don’t mind the cracks. Or the rags. It’s all junk. They don’t matter.
Death of Venus, by Roger Reutimann (USA). 2010.
We’re closing. You’ve wasted my time.
This is all I have left. It’s not worth anything, but
I don’t think you have enough to buy it. Buy
a Ferrari instead. You won’t get anything out of her;
she’s dead. She’s got nothing to give you, and you
won’t get any response from her bones.
That pose? I’ve seen it done better for centuries.
This one’s lost her touch. She doesn’t know how
to earn her keep. Red like the blood she’ll
suck from you if you let her. Really, it will take all you have
to walk out of here with her. Take her, then.
I don’t expect to understand. I just try
to find the right fit.
If you want to lie with death,
I’ll sell you her coffin.
Editor's note: Follow segment titles to their links to see all of the Venus artworks referenced.
Tanya Pilumeli is a writing instructor and poet living on the shore of Lake Erie. She has published and won awards in various places including Tipton Review, Blue Collar Review and Blaze Vox. When not helping out with their Italian restaurant, she loves travelling the world with her husband and three teenagers.
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