What He Doesn’t See

Elizabeth Volpe

after La Gioconda

Because her feet are bare she learns
something of the world under her skirt,
how the damp grasses of morning stiffen
as her strong feet measure each stem, toes
parting one from another.

Her skirt conceals the truth, the dark
restlessness she feels through her thighs
as she sits, ahs been sitting each day
when the light is soft. See
the way she lays her hands
on her lap, how her skirt
dampens form the heat
of her palms.

She has acquired
patience. Her last lover
told her to lie still while
he stood naked at his easel,
his hard belly dark, her throat tight
against his stare. She’d turn her eyes
to the window, a sky like amethyst
glass, menthol moon
Jeweling her shoulders.

Across the world a woman
poses on a bench in black
mantilla, hands delicate,
one upon the other, her bare feet
receiving impulses through the cool grass.
Don’t tell, they say, Don’t
ever tell.

Elizabeth Volpe, a 2001 Pushcart Prize nominee, lives and teaches in Bloomfield Hills, Michigan. Her poetry has most recently appeared in Borderlands: Texas Poetry Review, California Quarterly, Peralta Press, Passager, Driftwood Review, Red River Review, Porcupine, Comstock Review, The MacGuffin, and Rattle. New work is forthcoming in Atlanta Review.