She wears her sweater like a fur seal
sentinels its coat. Fine azure hair
prickles from rough weave. Merino,
she breathes, as if confessing a seraph
visitation, my father lifted it
from Chez Julienne while the couple
flirted with slow steps. He was rarely home.
I paint her without silver lining,
the pale Steinway grand turning copen
from asphyxia. Her hands have their own power.
More than once he made me watch, she lowers
her eyes. Do you think we were partners?
She veils guilt with nimble fingers, voice
soft as fluff wafting from thrashed wool.
But I played his game. Chopin always leads
lovers to the dancefloor. For a second,
she relives bitterness. I soften her features
with indigo pencil, feel the dry scrape of lead
against paper and request something Russian.
She falls silent, slumps over the keyboard,
her sketched figure awash with smudges of blue.
Arlene Ang lives in Venice, Italy where she handles the Italian edition of Niederngasse. Her poetry has recently been published in Mississippi Review Online, Eclectica, Verse Libre Quarterly, Poetry Midwest and Red Booth Review. Stirring has recently nominated her poem, “House of Correction” for the 2004 Pushcart Prize.