Reclining Nudes

The collector is obsessed

with bathing women.

The painters and their students

observe their canvas backs

study their open mouths

arms up, fur exposed,

soft animals juxtaposed

against dark paintings of men

heaving in their clothes

bulky masses of coats

closed around a table.

The viewer is a man.

In dignified portraits, ladies

fix him with a start

always stern faced

under his microscope.

I wish to inspect the men.

We stare at women’s faces

like fruit we might buy

if it’s soft enough

and sweet.

Let us look openly at men.

How many girls did you paint?

Naked in their evidence —

There is no proof except

the buildings full of it

the walls bursting with it

the crowds paying for it

the man collecting it.

Where are the men undressing?

In what lush garden do they hide?

Where do they bathe and lounge

on soft grasses

skin damp with summer

caressed by blue skies

caught unaware

by the artistic eye

of whom?

Where do their coats hang

empty costumes on hooks

shed from soft bodies?

Where do they lay pink

in bed before the painter

young and fresh

and for sale?

Always we are peering in

to the private lives of women.

Interrupted at their studies

leaning to pour tea

affectionately

holding small hands

meeting on a shaded hill

gazing away at what does not gaze back —

The indifferent ocean,

A docile garden.

It's Friday, and I'm having some feelings.

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