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,