Today's poem is by Judith Skillman


The picture of sorrow;
her back juts awkward as a cow.
The streets he cropped
to hold her arc stained by rain and oil.
She pares her nails
beside a window with adjustable shades,
widths of light he'll shave
from the roof of a thatched cottage.

In conversation she tips her head
violently; an African Gray born in a basement,
raised especially for him. The slate feathers
sometimes part over her breasts to reveal her,
and these are the excursions he likes best,
holding her away with his hand,
a basket of close work,
a reservoir of milk and light.

The tincture of a lamp burns
for seven years without summer.
The flowers he will not paint
are her inklings. These he turns
into rooftops brightened with white
above women like her, who pause before laundry.
Their backs are the sacks
they will carry away.

But she has planted her feet on his floor.
The cradle is a hollow to set by his easel
before water forces an eviction.
He has not yet been hospitalized,
nor had his models barred. Will she
heat coffee in a tin? Yes, and pour
her spindly hair down
the gully of his throat.

Copyright © 2007 Judith Skillman All rights reserved
from Coppelia, Certain Digressions
David Robert Books
Reprinted by Verse Daily® with permission

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