Nude in Chair
In the left corner of a too big bedroom, she sits, head
in hand, belly soft, thighs dimpled against worn
velvet armchair, dusty blue. Bed in foreground, un-
mussed patchwork quilt, mismatch to the pearl
buttons of her sweater she keeps in her lap, pearls
she keeps buttoning, unbuttoning, buttoning. My
demented aunt did the same. But this woman
appears to be in her forties. Pencil skirt and gold
lame blouse folded just so on the dresser.
Fingers worrying her brow. Beside the chair,
a too bright bulb as if an interrogation room..
See how the light from the lamp slits her body in two?
You drape the sateen sheet halfway over her thigh,
adjust the folds perhaps to sharpen the shadows
between the folds. Or shed light on her flesh-curves.
Every color—you will turn—to black and white.
Magenta sheet, olive skin, dark angle of the bend
in her knee—I am jealous of the nude who sits
head in hand in the velvet chair. Her whole body
posed by your hands. You snap the pearls—worry
beads between her fingers—shoot the winter
blue eyes. The nude—a still life of your grief.
I try on pavé diamond rings at Diane Glynn’s,
though you haven’t proposed. The jeweler ,who has
only one real breast now, wears a 3-carot-clear-
yellow rock, scarlet-red lipstick and bride-white
wig. A bent and muttering man wanders the shop.
She shakes her head, rolls her eyes. Go sit down.
She tells him. He does. Rises, paces. Six years now.
She tells me. No words except “Son of a bitch”
and “Go to hell!” She laughs when she says these things.
Once over dinner at a noisy restaurant you asked
if I wanted to be surprised or if I wanted to decide
together. We are seventy, in quarantine, and uncertain-
ty runs rings around us all. Yet even before COVID,
I’ve been measuring the circumference of my ring
finger. The distance between marriage and promises
of forever we keep making and remaking.
You ask me not to laugh at you
for focusing on the light.
I think of Poppa how he taught me fabric
and beauty—taught me silk boucle for curtains
heavy floral brocade for formal chairs
taught me scallop valance is made by folding
fabric in overlapping curved tiers,
draping the tiers above curtains
thereby adding grace and beauty,
but not how the layers block the light
at the top of the window from coming through.
Taught me grief and love, but not where to look--
for light. Forgive my not seeing the light in the folds
of each day unfolding. Sometimes I cannot recall
I am living— a lucky life—and you are always
an innocent man. Have I told you
you look like Poppa? Once again, I think of Poppa
how his lucky life came too late
to save his family from unlucky fates.
How he was an innocent man
sentenced to survival’s incessant stabbing
shadows. Forgive my seeing
his shadow in the folds of my own face
I thought was yours.
Doris Ferleger, Ph.D., award winning poet and author of Big Silences in a Year of Rain, As the Moon Has Breath, Leavened, and When You Become Snow, has been published in numerous journals including Cimarron Review, L.A. Review, Poet Lore, Rattle, and South Carolina Review. The 2009 Poet Laureate of Montgomery County, PA., Ferleger holds an MFA in Poetry and a Ph.D. in psychology and maintains a mindfulness based therapy practice in PA.
Daniel Goldberg took this photograph in San Miguel de Allende in Mexico, at a workshop with Keith Carter during the annual celebration of the town's patron saint Michael. This photo was shown at the Phillips' Mill show, where he has been twice awarded Best Body of Work. Other photographs have won awards at the Perkins Center for the Arts, Grounds for Sculpture, and the Mercer County Annual Show with a photo accepted into the permanent collection of Mercer County. Goldberg's work was also included in the first and third volumes of Seeing in Sixes (2016 & 2018), a juried publication of LensWork. He is a member of Gallery14 a photography gallery in Hopewell, NJ. He is also licensed psychologist/psychoanalyst/couples therapist with a private practice in Princeton, NJ.
The Ekphrastic Review
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