Wednesday, 30 August 2017

Nubile

by Devon Balwit


I lift my arms, instructed to hold
            an imaginary ewer, but more likely

to raise my breasts for the artist’s
            delectation, his tongue just visible

between his lips, his pencils rasping
            over the rough paper. I feel

his eyes probing and palping. My skin
            prickles, nipples nubs

against the cold. He is old. I imagine
            a younger man’s hands,

a younger man’s mouth on the tendons
            behind my knees, on the hollows

of collarbone and instep. In the steam
            of the bath, I kiss

where I can reach, taking hunks of flesh
            between my teeth to the point

of skin break, then letting go, watching
            the welted bite pinking. 

Each Saturday I disrobe in the chill studio
            and stand before his easel,

watching him watching, watching my
            doppelganger as she emerges

on the page crosshatched ever more fulsome. 
            I go to the opening, the nudes

prudishly enclosed behind wooden screens. 
            One ducks beneath to see breasts

and vulva, mine among them, then back out
            for champagne. Some notice

who I am. They look and look again. 
            For the first time, I drink

too much, and sway. For years, the drawing
            languishes in my parents’ basement until sold

with their estate. I have the chance to buy it,
            but pass, spending just a moment

considering my younger self before dismissing her,
            lifting the weight of so much nothing,

flushed with a now-sated hunger, her naiveté
            painful to behold.


* * * * *


Devon Balwit writes in Portland, OR. She has five chapbooks out or forthcoming: How the Blessed Travel (Maverick Duck Press); Forms Most Marvelous (dancing girl press); In Front of the Elements (Grey Borders Books), Where You Were Going Never Was (Grey Borders Books); and The Bow Must Bear the Brunt (Red Flag Poetry). Her individual poems can be found in The Cincinnati Review, The Stillwater Review, Red Earth Review, The Fourth River; Glass: A Journal of Poetry; Noble Gas Quarterly; Muse A/Journal, and more.