Seated Nude, by Mary Jo Balistreri
She bathes in the sun’s early glow,
that moment of splayed colour
when magenta, yellow and violet spill
over the hills and brush her nude body
with pastel fingers.
In this first movement of spectral light,
she sits on the edge of an armless chair
and reaches a hand to her hair. Soon
she will turn, surprise her voyeur
and even herself. Easy in her skin, she bends
her back to the shadowed green shade,
sighs and relaxes her stomach. And yet,
her hair is not soft like the landscape, but bleeds
into the chair. Hard and bold, the fusion cuts
through the scene, does not try to belong.
She bends her arm at the elbow, angles
it like the back of the chair. She’s no longer
round and soft like the background.
She leans forward to added dimension,
swivels toward different views, desires
to be known by more than one perspective.
Although she allows this portrait of transition,
allows Braque to hold her one last time,
she demands her release, shifts her complexity
to greet the new century of angles, cubes and facets,
her curved past slowly fading behind her.
Mary Jo Balistreri
This poem first appeared in Mary Jo Balistreri's book, gathering the harvest, (Bellowing Ark Press, 2012).
Mary Jo has three full length books of poetry and one chapbook. She was a musician most of her life but due to the death of a grandchild and a consequent loss of her hearing, she turned to poetry. Mary Jo has always been interested in art and received her BA in art from the U. of Pennsylvania. Please visit her at maryjobalistreripoet.com. She lives in Wisconsin.
1/22/2020 08:56:52 pm
I enjoy all the delights in this beauty. I love that the nude "allows Braque to hold her one last time" as if there is grace in this change she is about to impose. The contrast of the seated nude greeting "the new century of angles, cubes and facets" while her "curved past" slowly fades has a strong emotional impact as I feel both the gain and the loss at the same time. As a woman, it makes me think of my own transitions in life. And don't we all, men and women alike, "desire to be known by more than one perspective"? I love how the poet lures us into into all the loveliness, and then surprises by having the nude take charge and walk out. Thank you for featuring this magical poem. <3
1/23/2020 11:50:17 am
As a former language arts teacher , I found great joy in pieces of writing by my students that came from visual, musical, or natural prompts . Mary Jo Ballistreri has masterfully revealed the seated nude as a woman we are, or a woman we've known in many more than the two dimensions Braque so brilliantly painted. Her words and phrases capture and enlighten the subtle and revealing brushstrokes. The poem stands alone as a wonderful portrait, or as a partner to a visual feast.
Mary Jo Balistreri
1/25/2020 07:29:38 pm
Thank you all for taking the time to comment. I so appreciate your words.
1/25/2020 03:36:04 pm
If we allow it, all things fade away, and no need to belong are two messages I take from this poem. The lady enjoys romance and has independence and control.. Mary Jo is an exquisite poet.
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