—after Joe, 2010, by Joyce Werwie Perry
Chicken noodle soup, summer salad
a brownie split for dessert,
coincidental travel stories from Greece,
The new friend,
a fine oil-and-knife artist,
finds her car key—after an hour—
on the car’s front seat.
I gather the contracts
for the commission
and the solo-exhibition brochure,
the misplaced business card.
Among the photos of her artwork
is a portrait
of a moon-faced six-year-old boy’s head
in wire-rimmed glasses.
The blue eyes peer through the lenses.
Although the full, closed lips illustrate
a secret confidence in life,
we know you’re still writing about the boy.
Dimensions: 5 x 6 ft
Subject: Head of young boy
Show: Regional Museum Contest
Prize: Solo Exhibition at the Regional Museum of American Art
Status: Not for sale
Joe’s blonde wisps, the knife curves across the canvas,
and new commissions pay the bills
and fill wide gallery walls.
She outprices Joe, the showpiece, the opus.
The portrait looks through the windows
over the skyline
in the loft apartment above the park.
—from Thérèse, 1938, by Balthus (Balthasar Klossowski de Rola)
Bare calf and shoeless heel. Balthus continues
a stroke, crossing one thin ankle over the opposite leg,
ending precisely in the middle of the white thigh.
The model’s pale oval face, with vacant eyes
and childlike pout, looks as if she doesn’t embody
the brain it took to pose. The artist sees the chair sweat.
Thérèse, the world of what’s-to-be.
Thirteen years radiate an undeniable allure,
a fact not lost on the artist, who catches
the unkempt crop of chopped hair
tamed to the side with a bobby pin.
The red school blazer with crumpled sleeves.
The artist notes the dark skirt hiked thigh-high.
The model slouches in the wooden armchair,
pelvis in the vanishing point on the padded seat.
The chair, plain arms and dull olive fabric, a prop.
The witness of the loose wrist as it hangs
over the armrest, the other eye on her knee.
The fingers wait for something.
The body, uncoiled as a skein of yarn.
In the background, the plain white cloth
thrown over the buffet or the daybed,
the crisp fold marks cringing in the weave,
readied for the seasonal feast or the wearied body.
Through the window, the light, the virginal.