Q & A

Stephanie Painter

Mona is likely as the moon
to pop up anywhere, even
in a stack of dries soaps.

Perhaps we’d know
what to make of her
if she came with directions:

store at room temperature, refrigerate
after opening, keep pointed
in the direction of the arrow.

On no account should you open
Mona Lisa without shaking. Mona
smiles as though an intimate touch

feathers her gently somewhere
behind the stone wall, below
the of our vision. She leans

as if to share, not the touch,
but the answer she’s withheld
all these centuries. We want to stare

at her, we want to be her,
if that’s the way, the only way,
to learn the question.

Stephanie Painter has an MFA in poetry from Vermont College