Swan Song 

 

Night-foundered, you perform the morning’s

Ablutions, with a red-rimmed eye

And the dropsical face of a saint. 

 

When you look at yourself, drab and pinioned, 

You arch your brow like the span of a hawk;

You are all talons, a shadow on earth. 

 

Life is a curious kind of avarice,

In a carcass of a church

It wound a rope around your foot,

And told you that you would live twice. 

 

 

Venus in a Crinoline

 

Venus wears a crinoline and a stammer of lace, 

Her curls fall prostrate at thin shoulders, 

And makes fictive the rounded, half-lit face,

Pale as sunlight on marble graves. 

 

In a soft dark, an effigy folds on the bed, 

Under lamplight, the carmine lips are fading

From the painted red to a navel pink, soft

As an unborn fist, the cupid bow long winged.  

 

Somewhere, the parthenon awaits plunder. 

In the afternoon sun, the sculptor counts his lovers

Like grains of rice or scoured coins, forgetting 

That a belly full of metal, soon rings a new hunger. 

olivia cowley

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