Annie Fan

Three Poems


She is looking and knows the pose,
the drift of eye through skin. Her orchid
falls. He paints its mouth, full of sex
and rust, soured from being kept
in water. A few knots of gold, her hair
opaque, a muted sound. The maid
knows these things: gardens rushing from
living to rot, decay in the beams, the stems –
every gasp already gone. He turns fabric
into flesh, neat ankles, crossed,
the maid’s arms, yesterday’s
bloom, yesterday’s sheets piled high
and white, the sky. She is not to move.
He does not want her absence
in the portrait as a reminder; he begins
with the body, unclassical nude.
He begins with a cheaper garnet,
clouded fire. In his haste he doesn’t
seize the light, fails in quickening
her eyes, voluptuous hue. The day
darkens. He has only ever had his
hands and concave gaze. The women,
dimming from blinding; titanium
white. O Titian, O eggshell. Again
the single room and vinegar
wine. He paints lilies, foxglove,
Freudian saga, pity in restraint. What
velocities. Fine camelhair, redness.
The day is lost. Outside the window,
this is the time for small accidents:
going back to the foxtail, the night
cobbles, his fingers like ribbon
searching for shadow, her neck.


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