Woman at War
inspired by the Imperial War Museum (London) 2015 exhibition of Lee Miller photographs
Before she turns the lens on them, the lens is turned on her – good American bones refracting the limelight; the surreal angles of her long model’s body. A de-constructed woman - artists long to rebuild her but she is the mistress of her own reinvention; muse, photographer, war correspondent, provocatrice. Here she is, having an illicit bath in Hitler’s abandoned flat in Munich, trying to wash the dust and ashes of Dachau from her blonde limbs down the Führer’s plughole, whisky bottle to hand, the greyness trapped behind her eyes.
Hats Assignment 1940
Polka dotted pleats, wide skirts, striped tops – it’s good for the women of Britain to see that Hitler has not yet killed fashion.
The model in the foreground is obscured by a straw hat with a tiny crown, an asymmetrical overlarge brim as if the Mad Hatter has just scampered in crowing, That’ll show them! rolling his mercury-crazed eyes.
The other model looks directly at us, gripping her chair with black-gloved fingers, the brim of her pert hat shadows her face, like the curve of a bird’s wing, a bomb’s shell…
Anna Leska Flies a Spitfire 1942
Skull-capped bird of the flak-pocked skies; tumbling, turning fleece-bodied migrant; raptor dodging, smoke-belching, goggle-eyed pecker, pinpoint diver of the dreadnought clouds, pirouetting trails on your dragonfly wings; welcome as the darting curve of swallow-swiped air.
Margot Fonteyn, 1944
Sporting a high-rise fez-cum-Cossack combo filigreed with cascading star-petalled flowers. Her face, chiaroscuroed into expressionist angst on one side, clear and seer-eyed, on the other. Her narrow shoulders sag with the weight of what she imagines – her father, thin as beaten tin, shackled in an Asian POW camp. Each night she leaps higher and higher across the stage – for you, for you she whispers, flying from the wings, pinpricking the cupola with her perfect nails.
Sue Burge is a creative writing and film studies lecturer based in North Norfolk, UK. Her poems have been widely anthologised and have appeared in a range of magazines including Mslexia, Magma, Poetry News, The North, Lighthouse, Ink, Sweat and Tears, The Lampeter Review and Interpreter's House. She spends much of her time by the sea, walking in the winter and swimming in the summer and is addicted to dark chocolate.
The Ekphrastic Review
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