Issue Fifteen - October 2009


After “Bather”
sculpture in marble
Jean Alexandre Falguiere
(Fr. 1831-1900)

By Elizabeth Landrum

You gave no sign of knowing
I was there
tucked behind pussywillows
at the riverbank
still as a deer


But I remember.
Almost daily I remember
that moment,
the still frame of it
emblazoned on my brain

It was the moment you turned
as you heard
the rustle and crush
of yellowed leaves
in the hush of that misty morning
The moment you coiled and froze,
startled as you rose from the river,
and your drape dropped,
pooled in folds at your feet.
Ahh, those perfect feet.

The moment just after
the coverlet barely caressed
the swell of your breast as it fell
The moment before
the bend of your elbow
the twist of your wrist
the curl of your fingers let go
and you replaced the drape
on your shoulder…
that soft, slight shoulder.

Yes, I have memorized
every part that tantalized
in that extravagant moment
Almost close
enough to touch
your marble skin, glistening
in drips of river and sun,
yet forever far
from my hand
Yes, I searched those eyes
all shadow and stone
almost stern, yet serene
I almost
but did not know your name
so you’ll remain almost
known as “bather”

I could almost taste your perfume
orange, roses, clove
almost hear your gentle gasp
almost sip the slip of moisture
on your fresh pursed lips
(all most delicious)

I almost wept,
was almost swept away in love
with such silent softness

Yet never to nestle in the fusion
of arm and breast,
never to caress those tender thighs
at their joining,
never to realize the dream, and
never to be disenchanted

for it is always the almosts
that last.