Blackbirdan online journal of literature and the artsFall 2017  Vol. 16 No. 2
an online journal of literature and the arts
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Audrey Munson, The American Venus, Reimagines Her Life as Still Life
Flowers are . . . much harder than faces.
—Alex Katz, on Jane Freilicher

To not need this mouth,
these hands to arrange. To have been as ordinary, as strange
a sound as orange tucked in a tiger lily’s
bright Victrola horn. To have unlaced myself from every corseted
kick of the Dancing Dolls
and not been china doll at all, but china plate: vines and hard grapes.
Domestic and wild as a picnic.
Dune grass and panic grass like upended knives. To be an excuse for light
on the boardwalk, the shore—
and then Manhattan turned to mute geometry behind a table’s cloth,
slight cotton billows harder to paint
and paint again than any mouth. To have been worth looking at
for every streak and crumple and petal-
fleck; not an expectation of eyebrows and neck, but asters’ purple
frill and blunt-cut stems. No hope
that the water will save them. To never have been the girl dreaming
music-box trinkets, an admired
face. No bloomer-ruffled stalk down winter streets. To have no story
to rearrange my lips to tell.
No single star, but a quick bouquet that makes a foreground
of any windowsill,
sweeping all the lives outside into squares of background light. 
What would have mattered?
Not happiness, not loneliness. Peonies. A saucer’s expressionless white.  

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