I lost my shame in his studio, I felt the last of it ease away.
His constant staring made me lighter, gave me a sort of peace. They
always said I’d be forgiven on the other side. I expected halos, or a
list that would be torn in half then burned. Not those hands with
flecks of colour (my colour). Not that steady gaze. I know I made him
uncomfortable: cold as I was and staring back. I would hear him
awake at night, startled to see me still lying on the table. Strange to
enter his dreams that way. I never meant to, never meant to walk
these marble halls, to have stayed so long. Some people stop and
look as closely as he did, a sort of memorizing. I thought death
would be a place where no one saw me anymore. But I am
This painting is a posthumous mourning portrait, and the boy is rumoured to haunt the Minneapolis Institute of Arts where the painting hangs.
Melanie Figg is a 2017 NEA Poetry Fellow. Her chapbook, Hurry, Love, was printed in standard and fine art editions with paper artist Doug Abbott (Fuori Editions). She has won many awards for her poetry including grants from the McKnight and Jerome Foundations and the Arts & Humanities Council of Montgomery County. With an MFA in Poetry, her poems, essays and reviews have been published in dozens of literary journals including The Iowa Review, LIT, Colorado Review and others. She curates Literary Art Tours in DC galleries (aWashington Post Editor’s Pick), and teaches and coaches writers in community art centers and privately. www.melaniefigg.net
The Ekphrastic Review
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