No mask: her blush the object of this scene,
her belladonna eyes and coral lips
tempt everyman. Forgetting half his age
he watches as she slip-dances across
the broken space between them. Half the stage
is hers, and as she sways those balanced hips
still certain he'll be watching, we can see

she holds the keys of every mystery
discovered through an accident of birth
or through constructed plans, whispered behind
stage curtains, palms, or smoke: the gain or loss
of every generation redefined
within her phrases, and the measured worth
of every suitor moderated here,

reduced to cadence by the smooth veneer
of unassuming speech: a few quick words
and careful ambuscades begin to fall,
the balustrades crumble. Who needs a gloss
when movements of her hands, controlled, recall
scenes from our lives, shadows, the flight of birds
whose sudden wings discover clandestine

suitors or servants who, exposed, begin
to confess all, as if they were compelled
by fear or love of her light form, by lust
coerced and purified, until the dross
is burned and blown away, as if the dust
revealed all our patterns or withheld,
in swirling chaos, half her craft unseen?


from Henry Gray (18251861).Anatomy of the Human Body.

Copyright 2012,  W.F. Lantry

W.F. Lantry has two poetry collections The Structure of Desire (Little Red Tree 2012) and The Language of Birds (Finishing Line Press 2011). Recent honors include the National Hackney Literary Award, Lindberg Foundation International Poetry for Peace Prize (in Israel), and the 2012 Old Red Kimono and Potomac Review Prizes. His work has appeared in Asian Cha, Descant and Aesthetica.

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