Project Description

Seeing the Elephant

—old euphemism for losing one’s virginity

The first time
a glimpse—
blur of wild

and thunder

by the astonishing

the trembling
ground, a frenzied

Over and over
we yearn
to peer

at its grace
and power,
at more

than the animal
weight, the flimsy

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

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.