Marquesa – Steven Garmanian

Her body reclines in a chair 
Carved teak and polished whale bones 
Crushed with insect wings. 
Turtle shell and mother of pearl 
Wink like spirit eyes around her tendril hair. 
The mask of a frog laughs over her head, 
Tells her something is near. 
Asleep or poised, she is still. 
A headdress woven with feathers 
Of birds long extinct 
Necklaces of glass slave trade beads 
And braids the color of blood 
Hang like vines over her breasts. 
Blossom shaped earrings 
Invite the voices of small birds. 
The mouth of the forest has called her 
With the whisper of snakeskin 
Creasing a path over fallen leaves. 
Her eyes open and slide to the side 
Awake now and peering into the unknown, 
Ready for flight or revelation. 
Which spirit is present, 
A servant or a god, 
Watching over her in the dark? 
Which guardian of the night 
Seeks the warmth of her flesh? 
The brown of her body 
The color of tree trunks 
Bends just out of reach. 
Her memories hold the colors 
Of bright fruit and flowers, 
Blazing colors on fire, 
And the scent of the night, 
fragrant jasmine and gardenia, 
Fills flared nostrils with perfume. 
Gauguin steps away from the easel, 
Lets his lover relax into dreams 
as he lights a pipe, the blackened bowl 
Clenched tight in twisted lips 
flaring in approaching night 
Cups the clotted brushes 
As he walks toward the river.