Size / / /

White canvas. Layers of brief washes,

spare brushwork. Sun's rays

spotlight a girl, soft petal hands lying

in her lap, feet in a stream.

Enter the frame to join her.

Watch her lattice her fingers in her lap. Dream.

Some expressive beauty

(not like a well-turned beam

is beautiful, nor like you are beautiful,

but beautiful as the daze

of nature's chlorophyll dynamos)

hovers about the cliches

of her indistinctly rendered mouth,

cleft of thighs, pubic maze.

The artist gave her ampersands, ellipses,

subtle women's winning ways.

Sitting quietly's unbearable; you insist

on conversation. The gallery teems

with tourists in anoraks.

They leave aluminum wrappers at her feet.

Their eyes appraise,

smooth as half-drunk cream.

Her hands flutter over her body, playing

a guessing game with their gaze.




Joanne Merriam is the publisher at Upper Rubber Boot Books. She is a new American living in Nashville, having immigrated from Nova Scotia. She most recently edited Broad Knowledge: 35 Women Up To No Good, and her own poetry has appeared in dozens of places including Asimov's, The Fiddlehead, Grain, and previously in Strange Horizons.
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4 Mar 2024

Sometimes among the fish and crabs, we trawl squid and octopus, or little sharks, all added to the pots. Sometimes it’s a fish person, a thing we cut free and do not talk of, pretend we never saw. Today, it is part of a god.
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