Wednesday, May 22, 2013

In The Studio

In the Studio

Alone in the studio, the model sighed.
She picked up a malingering brush,
feathered her cheeks,
feeling for what she saw on the canvas,
that being he made
from the bones of her wrists and a bowl of peonies,
tomorrow for skin,  smile curve and tangent, 
blur of ripe cream leg
no woman ever used to walk.

She touched her face, round in the rind of hair,
a basin brimmed with the rippling past
poured blind before her in dim pastels,
all its inventory braised
in a broth of shadow, while
she stroked the cheeks' braille
deep cut as flagstone
worn by the wheel, words nothing
paint would ever say.

Her fingers shortened
like burning candles--she leaned
forward and felt for the
habit of her breath tangled
in the white fold of cloth
he'd thrown over her hip; north light
dappled her eyes; a twitch,  a cry
and the studio went dark.

~May 2013

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Challenge: Get Listed
 Elephants Dance in Fancy Pants with (who else?) Karin Gustafson
Karin, also known as ManicdDaily, provides us with some cogent reasons to consider using a word list to aid the creative juices, and then gives us an excellent one. You will find all these words from it above: tomorrow, wrist, braise, basin, hair, rind, inventory, malingers, dapple, and habit. This was quite a different poem before encountering them.

Image: An Artist's Studio, by Konstantin Korovin, 1892
Public Domain, via


  1. I like the ripe cream leg no woman ever used to walk, and the fingers shortened like candles. You never use tired phrasing, ever. I love that you told this from the perspective of the model, rather than from the perspective of an onlooker or the artist.

  2. smiles...made me think she was looking for a bit of what the artist saw in her...even as the body ages and finds its cracks, still he hes it in her...perhaps what she at times can not...

  3. a broth of shadow... that's gonna stick with me.

  4. I too sighed at broth of shadow and the "leg" line referenced by Shay... and she is correct - you never use tired phrases (mine lately is "youth-filled dreams" - I would hate to see how many times i have used that phrase.) "poured blind before her in dim pastels"... quite an intriguing line. Made me think that all the things we are horrified about ourselves, those things that we keep hidden, keep us from being more "free" - really aren't what define us.

  5. this could have been written about my latest model, who I like, even though she's a bit sulky! must be the odd requests :)

    a cracking scene, depiction and development hedge. got my mind making wicked pictures all through. smile curve and tangent. caught my wonky vertical eye and the climax twisting . . .

    he'd thrown over her hip; north light
    dappled her eyes; a twitch, a cry
    and the studio went dark

    putting me in mind of Baudelaire's essay.

    a real sense of relation makes it very vivid to me:
    becoming quite alive on the inside as it dries.

  6. Hedge, the model's self-assessment, her critique of her features, those little details like running a brush over her cheek... this is a portrait of a portrait, BRILL. But the ending? Chilling, the cloth suddenly full of her breath... yikes! Simply amazing. Amy

  7. "feeling for what she saw on the canvas,
    that being he made
    from the bones of her wrists and a bowl of peonies"
    This makes me ponder how models do feel about the paintings made of them, especially the second and third lines here. An extraordinary sensation, it must be, indeed, which you have put into perfect words, Joy.

  8. I love to see this scene from the model's point of view. Each stanza is perfectly engendered to carry the poem forward to the final moment.

  9. This is great to share the model's perspective. Very unique.

  10. Love how you were able to use the words but nothing feels forced. Interesting POV too!

  11. How the . . . just an incredible use of the words. I am really in awe.

  12. Either your Hubby is an English professor, or his favorite answer to anything you say is Huh?"
    If a painting by Picasso or Dali were put into words, they would sound just like YOU!
    You are on a plain far above my tiny pea brain. Yet I keep coming back for more...(sigh)

    1. My hubby is an Okie sodbuster-plumber who was a marksman in Viet Nam, can fix anything mechanical on the face of the earth and used to have a big Harley. He never reads my poetry, however. It's just better that way. ;_) I think you probably get more than you let on, Mr G. I ain't fallin for that just-another-pretty-face act. ;P

  13. Very creative use of word list Hedge, I am awed by what the model felt and saw in the canvas ~ The ending was surreal but the perspective was well done ~

  14. This is just terrific. You manage to make your own painting and then fit a bit of Cocteau-- film noir in at the end. I love how habit is both like the habit of breathing but also the clothing-- and something of the devout--devotee here even of just devoted to self and image and art. A wonderful poem. I am sorry -- I have no wireless access where I am so can't comment easily. I am not really a fan of list prompts actually bit glad this worked out so well for you. Thanks. K.

    Ps love all the other stuff others have mentioned ESP the rind of hair, the skin that seems to be a mix of peonies and tomorrow. K.

  15. A very layered poem! So much said yet silent. A picture speaks a thousand words and had had much more! hoping and wondering how much of it casm eout in the pic. Wonderful play of words!

  16. These thoughts stood out to me, drawing my imagination further into another time and place:

    "no woman ever used to walk."

    "felt for the
    habit of her breath"

    But this, oh, this is what did it for me: "a twitch, a cry
    and the studio went dark." Fantastic ending. A quiet, thoughtful woman is a universe of poetry waiting to be written and a private studio of paintings dripping to be worked.


"We make out of the quarrel with others, rhetoric, out of the quarrel with ourselves, poetry." ~William Butler Yeats

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