Jane Ellen Glasser
After The Loss of Virginity
In Gauguin’s painting, the maiden lies naked,
stretched out on the earth like a corpse.
Afterward, I covered myself with a white sheet
as he rose to shower and dress.
She holds a wilted iris in her right hand.
Everything in the canvas is something else.
We were going to be married that summer.
Mother had selected daisies for the altar.
Her left hand embraces the evil-eyed fox
who places his paw on her heart.
My parents were pleased. Following my romance
with artists—a sensible lawyer.
Her eyes are closed and her feet cross
like Christ’s on the crucifix.
He slipped into business talk. He had maps
in his shoes, money in his mouth.
The villagers move off to church or to a wedding.
The red fields of Le Pouldu are harvested.
I dressed while he planned our future:
where we’d live, what cars we’d drive, our two children.
One cloud in the blue sky, an echo of the maiden’s body,
suspends in the heavens like a cry.
Like loosely stitched
scraps of cloth
the wind shakes,
they sweep the sky
swarming and swirling
then drop down
to blacken a field,
to crown a tree,
or facing into the wind
on telephone wires,
to line up
like musical notes in the same key,
as if to instruct us
on the interconnectedness
of all things.
Dolor of the Abandoned House
My windows watch the street for signs.
I thought, vacation, but she’s been gone
six months. Orchids scatter
paper ghosts on table tops.
The stove’s mouth, left open,
sighs. Every day it rains
dust. Too old to start over, I worry
about auctions, moving vans,
children screeching, scuffing
my floors as strangers move in.
Would she do this to me?
Who has loved her more?
Not the husband who walked out
on us. Not the daughters
who married faraway cities.
Who knew her better than I did?
My walls have swallowed tears
and laughter. My sofa holds her shape.
I ache for the caress of air as she moves
through rooms, the patter of her feet,
the seasons of her moods.
Late summer and the lawn is wild,
gone to weed. The mailbox yawns
on its post. Camellias litter the front steps
like rusty memories. Suspended in time,
I wait the way a dog waits, listening
for footsteps, the kiss of her key.
Jane Ellen Glasser’s poetry has appeared in numerous journals, including The Hudson Review, The Southern Review, The Virginia Quarterly Review, The Georgia Review, Poetry Northwest, and Hayden’s Ferry Review. A first collection of her poetry, Naming the Darkness, with an introduction by W. D. Snodgrass, was followed by Light Persists, which won the Tampa Review Prize for Poetry 2005 and received an honorable mention in the 2007 Library of Virginia Literary Awards. Her chapbook “On the Corner of Yesterday” was published in 2010 by Pudding House Publications. “The Long Life,” recent winner of the Poetica Publishing Company’s 2011 Chapbook Contest, appeared in January 2012. Her new full-length collection of poetry, “The Red Coat,” has been accepted for publication by FutureCycle Press and will be published in 2013.