It is light her hand would hold off. One leg,
exposed, makes this scene of blanket and flesh
another odalisque painting. The last
five hundred years have turned them out,
so many forgeries of whatever woman was
the first to be painted in the familiar pose.
Sleep is what this longs for, what her shoulders
spell out, runes smoother than sandstone
script, each oracular curve a hymn
whose lyrics claim meaning outlives form.
Touch, after all, is more than the touching.
And I have touched her, this woman
become symbol. Like all touch, it’s not
housed easy in the flesh, but it is
a memory worth holding in any light.