I can see your back,
Arching away through that
Thin cotton dress
Sensual and smooth
’Til the atmosphere’s thick
With pollen and dew.
You are as pretty and implacable as a doll
Bad doll, black hair, red lips
smashed like china
the way the makeup
Plasters over the cracks
In the porcelain
You thought invisible
As if i couldn’t see the pattern
Beneath the paint and fill
That stays there by an act of will.
But i see you held
Together by stitches and glue
And what is more
I like that in you.
I saw you dreaming in the dark,
developing photos in the dark
of your mind
You tried the door and it was unlocked,
slipped into snaking streets;
You walked home barefoot,
heels slung over shoulder,
humming a hillbilly tune
drunk with life
to sleep in a sweet darkness
How did you become shapeless stone
waiting for the sculptor’s chisel
To craft you into the form you dream of?
Headscarf glamour, Venus de Milo,
Our lady of grace mixed with Traci Lords.
Cold steel fog inside your eyes at 3am
Praying for unconsciousness to come.
You walk into the kitchen for a glass of hot milk
and take the scalpel to a black rotten toe
but tomorrow night it has grown back again
with the day’s demands for goodness and sparkle.
I wonder how you became something to be
formed and shaped by a man’s skilful hand,
Your model’s walk and wide open eyes
skin as sensitive as water.
If i touched you ripples would flow from the source
Through your spine and neck
down the smooth of your back.
Hungry as Cinderella, in a spotless kitchen
Feed the children, deny yourself,
naked on your bed,
arms open, eyes closed
a female Christ,
roses and shadows.