Butterfly/Moth, by Ann Power
Audrey Munson (1891-1996), the first American supermodel, was the subject of inspiration for the most exceptional artists of her day in works fashioned in oil, bronze, and marble. At age forty, she was institutionalized and spent the next 65 years of her life in one of several asylums. There remains a question about whether psychological incarceration was necessary.
St. Lawrence Psychiatric Center Ogdensburg, N.Y.
She was no one and once more, no one. Only briefly did she matter,
held captive in a hundred poses, limbs frozen in classical form,
enduring the mind’s long exercise in being other.
The absence she wreathed in memory like the entrance
of a seasonal greeting, an entry finding once more the props of her life--
a sparsely furnished studio with its pedestals, drawing table, chisel, knife,
hammer, drapery, and all an invitation to art.
What of her was caught in the silence of forever, in the eternity of beauty?
And what was left? The gypsy’s curse predicted fame and penury.
She had lived the prophecy.
She struck a pose, transitioning to another, and another:
Star Maiden …
and finally …
Descending Night …
Her life was like Night with wings enfolding dreams, smothering them.
Her reflection, hatcheted in a small three-panel mirror, was missing
an arm, a leg.
She could be sold piecemeal. Lamb chop! Lamb chop!
The amber light began to shift. She rearranged her embroidered shawl,
sprinkled with flowers, colors dulled by age.
At breakfast, she stroked her face with milk, dipping her finger into her
bowl of Cheerios. And then again. Her skin must be luminous.
This morning she will knock on familiar doors, seek work.
Later, she pulled her best frock from the bare closet.
The mirror smiled back at her in complicit fun.
Ann Power is a retired faculty member from The University of Alabama where she worked as coordinator for the Bibliographic Instruction Program, University Libraries. She enjoys writing historical sketches as well as poems based in the kingdoms of magical realism. Her work has appeared in: The Pacific Review (CSU, San Bernardino), The Puckerbrush Review, Limestone, Spillway, The Birmingham Poetry Review, The American Poetry Journal, Dappled Things, Caveat Lector, and elsewhere.
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