femme piquée par un serpent, alternately, Orsay.
after Clésinger
Karena Landler

they say these things were once painted:
colorful until the rains came weathering.
but he carved her pre-bleached: a white lie with
curves to imagine antique, to imagine woman.

were we meant to do this? to trace
the fold of her fat at the waist as she lies,
to search around her body cartoonishly until we see
on her wrist, the snake, the earthworm-cum-serpent?

and furthermore were we meant to laugh
quietly, so as not to disturb the man nearby
with long hair and his burgundy sweater,
at the size of that creature?

he carved her so he could say:
see, it isn’t like that.
there’s a snake.

a paltry thing.
and yet to see her frozen in writhing.
were we meant to take it serious?

a laugh, a death of some kind,
and that snake his excuse— or hers,
perhaps the snake is made of rubber
in her hand in case she gets caught,
so she could say:
it wasn’t like that, i was bitten.

there is no man who stands above her,
none behind her or atop her, so
it could just as easily have been this way.

i appeal to the figure in burgundy:
who follows me across the floor,
giving a cursory look to the bareness of her breast,
moves on to the ones without excuses,
the ones we can take serious,
the intimation of Jupiter doing
his grand something-or-other.

don’t even want to touch that, he thinks,

of the woman curved on the ground.
on to more serious things. on to the origin of the world.