A woman of jet and marble, her right hand

holding the pearls, a perfect strand,

looped through her fingers, plunging down

past her belly, vanishing into

the fullness of her white neck.


Her left hand disappears into darkness—

holding back the night,

bringing it on.


She is frozen, extreme in her contrast

of dark and light, her youth paused

across the centuries, her hair, her lips,

her straight-lined brows blending

into the black.


Her eyes turn away from us, seeing

only herself, her bobbed hair revealing

the muscles of her neck, her mouth

with its smile unsmiling—


libertine in black and white, statue

of liberty, reluctant saint and conscientious

sinner in a dress just below soft, pale,

unseen knees.


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