Ekphrastic Poetry

Nude in Bathtub

After Bonnard

Pierre Bonnard
Nude in Bathtub

Between the edge of the afternoon
and dusk, between the bath’s white
rim and the band of apricot light,
she bathed, each day, as if dreaming.

From the doorway he noted
her right foot hooked for balance
beneath the enamel lip, body
and water all one in a miasma

of mist, a haze of lavender blue.
Such intimacy. A woman, two walls,
a chequered floor, the small
curled dog basking in a pool

of sun reflected from the tiles
above the bath. Outside
the throbbing heat. So many times
he has drawn her, caught the obsessive

soaping of her small breasts,
compressed the crouched frame into
his picture space, the nervy movements
that hemmed in his life.

The house exudes her still
breathes her from each sunlit corner,
secrets her lingering smell
from shelves of rosewood armoires,

and the folded silk chemises
he doesn’t have the heart to touch.
And from the landing, his memory tricks,
as through the open door the smudged

floor glistens with silvered tracks,
her watered footprints to and from
the tub where she floats in almond oil
deep in her sarcophagus of light.

From Ghost Station
Published by saltpublishing 2004


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