Seeing the Elephant / A Woman in the SunRascal2018-09-04T19:12:22+00:00
Seeing the Elephant
—old euphemism for losing one’s virginity
The first time a glimpse— blur of wild
notions— trumpet and thunder
blocked by the astonishing flank,
the trembling ground, a frenzied hunger.
Over and over we yearn to peer
at its grace and power, at more
than the animal weight, the flimsy shadows.
It takes years to learn the whole
unlikely shape can never be in focus.
Edward Hopper’s A Woman in the Sun
She wears nothing but the light, the breeze—that hint of dance
in the curtain she faces, the view out the open pane, hers alone.
A wise tramp, Hopper called her— his model, his wife—standing
in a room of garden greens— floor and walls, all the angles
looming. The bed’s unmade— beneath it, a pair of kicked-off heels,
and two shadows, thin tracks, trail from her strong legs—her body
painted decades younger than her face. Hard to believe her golden skin
outshines the stoic pose, the impossible torsion—
her feet almost turning away, her shoulders giving in,
exposing both full breasts, their brighter glow, and her eye—
in profile—staring straight ahead, as if she dares the sun to blind her,
to box her in with gleam. She holds a cigarette—poised, unlit—
waiting, it seems, for a match, or for the answer to an old, old riddle.
Christine Rhein is the author of Wild Flight (Texas Tech University Press, 2008), a winner of the Walt McDonald First Book Prize in Poetry. Her poems have appeared widely in literary journals, including The Southern Review and The Gettysburg Review, and have won awards from Michigan Quarterly Review and Green Mountains Review. Her work has also been published in anthologies, including The Best American Nonrequired Reading 2017. Christine lives in Brighton, Michigan.