Lautrec, by Stephanie Pressman
Deft hands pick apples,
slice them with a well-honed knife, layer them
in a tartouillat, caramel soft and buttery.
The hare saddled and ridden with marinade
at least 24 hours with good red wine. Hairy vetch
nourished by hunger, longing,
long and thick, splashed with red-violet, not
tenuous, not fragile.
The whole day is shot through
with streaks of lightning where birds
bang against the windows.
“To tenderize chickens,” Henri said,
“you must take them out of the hen-run, pursue them
and when you have made them run, kill them
with very small shot.”
He cracked at the egg’s shell
before he was ready, ruptured the thin casing,
burst into the world of folies and red mills
where music crackled and courtesans bared their buttocks
in the shadow of the Sacré Cœur.
La Goulue (the glutton),
at a dance hall in dresses borrowed from her family’s laundry,
flipped his hat off with her toe, drank his wine, swished
her dress under his pastels, the V baring cleavage.
slashed chalk on her cheek, her mouth wry, her eyes
unfocused, left hand in the crook of a woman’s elbow.
Over the wall of the Palais de la Berbie
the river Tarn runs through Albi
and countryside, meandering as rivers do,
sandy banks, scrubby pines. Henri spread a cloth
over scraggly grass, laid the dancer and the menu
side on side with plates of grapes, paté
with calf’s foot sauce and red currant jelly,
the woman lying with a mushroom in her hand, her red hair
careless, her gown slipping her shoulder
and the man in black beneath, hand cupping her breast.
Stephanie Pressman started writing poetry at about age eight. She has an MA in English from San Jose State University, taught writing at community college, and became a graphic artist and owner of her own design and publishing business, Frog on the Moon. She served as co-editor of cæsura and americas review. Her work has appeared in many journals including Bridges, cæsura, CQ/California State Poetry Quarterly, The MacGuffin, The Kerf, Sing Heavenly Muse, and Montserrat Review as well as on-line in Newport Review, Halfway Down the Stairs, Red Wolf Editions, and forthcoming in The Writers’ Café Magazine, The Collidescope, and others. Her long poem Lovebirdman appears in an illustrated volume published in June, 2018, available on amazon.com.
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