The Paradox Within
You, Madame X, the woman of mystery and yet known to all,
have become the representation of a modern paradox.
You are traditionally noble and apparently fragile,
yet you are also strong and progressive.
You give us is nothing and you give us everything.
There are no wall decorations in your world,
no still-life props, no patterned floor-work.
You have deemed that your elegantly simple black dress
needs no accompaniment except an Empire table
that creates a subtle curve
which echoes your feminine shape.
Your contorted arm continues a line from one of the table legs.
It supports you as you prepare to assert your own space,
but this table is not defiant, it is not thinking about change
and the challenges that might lie ahead.
The stripped back setting might speak of frugality,
but your tiara hints at station.
Your pose is demure yet statuesque,
suggesting that you are
looking forward to a different future.
It retains and reveals at once.
You turn away but do not wither.
In fact, with your tightly fitting dress and exposed flesh,
your stance is unmistakably sexual,
even for Paris in the late 19th century.
Yet your confidence flows from the image.
You tell us to take you but as your face turns
as if to bathe in our admiring gaze,
in so many more ways you are unavailable.
Aware of yourself, you dare the world.
Henry Bladon is a writer of short fiction and poetry based in Somerset in the UK. He has degrees in psychology and mental health policy and a PhD in literature and creative writing. His work can be seen in Potato Soup Journal, Forth Magazine, Mercurial Stories, thedrabble, Tuck Magazine and Spillwords Press, among other places.
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