Thursday, July 22, 2010

Baring The Soul Of Modigliani's Nude

He treated women like his bottle
of green liqueur, something to consume
his need and interest. His painting
was a process which required
compliance from the model, the room,
the brush, itself.

Yet when he angled her
bare against an oak headboard,
her face resting
on shoulders carved
from bone-deep despair,
he seated a woman
leaning against her cross,

The Female Nude. Her features
expressed the geometry of sides.
Her view of why
she slept with strange men.
Survival at first, later adoration.
Society's view -- an actress
who was too ambitious.
The church's view -- inherent sin.
Her mother
never baptized the love-child
or sent her to the nuns
for salvation and proper schooling.

And perhaps, a fourth view,
the artist. He needed financing
and asked her to sleep
with his patrons
out of love, out of sacrifice
for their future. Perspiring

she must have agreed
reluctantly, turned her head
downward with hair
falling damp as mist
against those walls
washed in storm-cloud blue.

Paint was still peeling
in the corners. Some hair pins
had fallen; and between her feet,
they lay scattered
like tortoise shell nails --
serrated and probing