Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Poem: "The Odalisque and the Painter"

The Odalisque and the Painter

It is our business here to make a song—
Whoever is sore, whatever is wrong.
—Anna Wickham, “In the House of the Soul”


It doesn’t look anything like me, but you’re the artist.
I’m the slave, the chambermaid
ordered to remove my clothes, then ordered to lie on the mattress.
I was hoping to get laid

but I guess the sultan is not up to it, today.
You’re cleaning your brushes, back to the color of your hair,
and looking so far away
you are not really here.

Hey! Have you heard this one,
this French painter who waters his fish to keep it gleaming? Isn’t that cheating?
He throws it back into the sea after he’s done.
Pity. Fish is for eating.

I guess I’d better pick up my stitches.
Coming here is such a risk.
My husband’s a jealous son of not one, but two bitches.
But it’s nice to be for an afternoon an odalisque.

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