Naked Portrait 1972-3 – After Lucian Freud

Ekphrastic Poetry

I know this room as well as any prisoner
knows his cell, the harsh white pallor

tingeing the calamine rawness
of my skin infirmary green as pinioned

by his gaze I lie exposed across this
old brass bed, drowned cadaver on

a mortician’s marble slab. Though I give
everything I have, hold nothing back,

he barely sees me. A woman, a dog
for him they’re the same. At night

he breathes in my civet sweetness, by day
I’m an experiment in bald flesh;

nipples, pubic hair, my open thighs
terrain for his palette knife, the sable

brushes lying on the paint-clotted stool.
Crow-like he picks me clean.

My fan of fallen hair offers no protection
as he peels back my paper skin.
Outside his high windows
the winter morning is dark with rain;

buses, taxis, cyclists
swish through the glistening

mica streets as if there was
somewhere they needed to go.

Lucian Freud, Naked Portrait 1972-3

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