Waterhouse’s Women

Canvas has teeth to catch the smear of pigment that comes off a brush

it has a fighting spirit that resists assault, that provides firm backing

as long as its stretched tight and nailed to a frame like Christ to his cross.

 

It takes some time to warm his hands up, to dip and twirl the brushes in

turpentine. Lightheaded from fumes he sometimes sits and stares at her,

his model standing under the skylight, under its grey-steel light.

 

Auburn hair, long white arms, breasts with perky nipples showing

through the thin silk robe he gave to her to wear. “Lean back and stare, imagine

you’re on a rock in the Aegean Sea, waiting for your sailor boy to come.”

 

There in the frame he captures her flame, the look of sorrow and Eros

like small hidden sapphires behind her irises, irresponsibly beautiful

tense and poised like an ibis set to run from her predator, a painter.

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