from
“The Woman in an Imaginary Painting”

The days have a roundness,
morning and night, darkness
and light, turn and return,
the months, the seasons.

In her kitchen, the yellow
wall holds a flatness
against which her nakedness
curves, lovely as the blush

at her throat. Everything
here glows, as her hair does
the color of cornmeal,

while somewhere a millstone
grinds, fine and finer, grinds
one day, grinds another.

from
“The Woman in an Imaginary Painting”

She did not stop
living when he stopped

painting. She went on,
no longer his

model, no longer
the woman being

painted. She had
a lover. She had

a thousand dreams
of orgasm and

the wisdom those
moments offered.

Even now, all these
years later, she

remembers and her
flesh still trembles,

and she goes on,
beyond the paint,

beyond what paint
ever promised.

from
“The Woman in an Imaginary Painting”

Earnestness
is not
sincerity.

She knows that.
She poses
as she breathes,

naturally.
The world fills
with the light

which comes
out of her.
The paint hums

as it dries,
as imagination
sets its edge,

so the painter
not longer has
what he dreamed.

from
“The Woman in an Imaginary Painting”

If there were
stars in the world
she inhabits
perhaps we could

understand
what sadness is.
We know the sun
has touched her

gold-spun hair.
Has light from
other stars
touched her skin,

the firmness
of her breasts?
We can’t say.
We only know

loss is to her
predicament
as darkness
is to night.

from
“The Woman in an Imaginary Painting”

The more
I look

at her
the more

she bleeds
into

this world.
I hold

my breath
and wait.

Tom Montag’s books of poetry include: Making Hay & Other Poems; Middle Ground; The Big Book of Ben Zen; In This Place: Selected Poems 1982-2013; This Wrecked World; The Miles No One Wants; Imagination’s Place;  Love Poems; and Seventy at Seventy. His poem ‘Lecturing My Daughter in Her First Fall Rain’ has been permanently incorporated into the design of the Milwaukee Convention Center. He blogs at The Middlewesterner. With David Graham he recently co-edited Local News: Poetry About Small Towns.

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