In that masculine painting
(as strong as her father’s)
Judith, muscular arms near the canvas’ plane
intent on the beheading
bends, but as a woman does.
Her lower body’s arched away from the deed,
a woman willing to do murder
but unwilling to soil her amber-gold skirts
with Holofernes’ blood.
No man, intent on violence
arms raised, pelvis jutting,
On a bed of costly Lapis Blue
an idealized body
(refined away the form of her creator)
Venus sleeps in her jewels
as I often do
corporeal excess and time’s scarring.
Ellen Peckham has read, published and exhibited in the U.S., Europe and Latin America. She frequently uses both art forms in a single work, the text decorating and explicating and the image illuminating. Her archives of drafts, edits and art are collected at the Harry Ransom Center For The Humanities. www.ellenpeckham.com.