The Man Who Painted Women

by Michael Cantor

We watched you as you limned a woman’s face
and body — got it right — the half-held breath,
the promise seen implicit in the eyes,
the tension of the shadows on her flesh,
and yet you seemed unpleased. You gave her pearls,
then scarves, to try to capture and reflect
an essence — stepped back further, further,
inserting dark green dabs to form a bed,
and built on that until you’d filled the space
with tables, bureaus, bottles, fresh cut flowers
lying in the fragments of a shattered vase —
a note, a spill of wine, a twisted mirror —
added windows and a door — and finally you
stepped out of one of them to freeze the view.


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