You’ve never sat, doing your work

…if you had been me, on a stool upstairs

Made dumb by the green walls of Lippard’s laboratory

Looking down, as directed, through the lens

at the wing he’d razored along the vein

Some of the colors are not pigments, you know

Only reflections of light

He hated girls to be romantic

Wanted me in a purely clinical sense

To pin the specimen, wearing magnifying goggles

With the scalpel’s point, slice the abdomen

I wouldn’t love the butterfly and make a life for it in fancy

Like a woman

I would understand

It was a creature of component parts

M. de Clieux, Miss Harvey says

I waited for him on the blanket

With the box lunch and my pocket sketchbook

You’ve never sat, doing your work…

And felt insurrection mark you

A flying squadron circle you, the enemy

Hem you round, knock you in the eye

Drop into your tea, buzz with a chill obscenity

Fall into your bodice

De Clieux feels this living woman, matter of fact in madness

Infects him, makes his intimate adulation of a ghost

as menacing as the insurgent swallowtail


Copyright 2017 Stephanie Foster


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