Artemesia Gentileschi Painting Judith
When my father let him take me away,
not as prisoner, but as wife, it was the first time
I thought of you easing your fingers in Holofernes’
black hair, pulling the head back so his knotty white
neck jutted up like an unmarred landscape, so his face
was facing yours and the cool pressure of the sword.
You came for me like this at night, took my hand
and traced the path of blade across skin. When I
could not last, and left, I still could not escape you.
Each night, the sword, the bulging vein, the arc
of blood smudged across my canvas. I made your body
as round and strong as my own. Seducer and killer,
in my dark room, you never let me work alone,
your hand easing into mine, these slashes,
my brush, tender and tangled.
Magdelyn Hammond Helwig
Magdelyn Hammond Helwig is an Assistant Professor and the Writing Program Director at Western Illinois University. She received her MFA in poetry in 1999 and PhD in English in 2010 from the University of Maryland, College Park. Having published and presented academically on ekphrastic poets such as Frank O’Hara, Ted Hughes, C.D. Wright, and Walt Whitman, she is now turning her pen to writing ekphrastic poetry herself.
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