Back to Issue Seventeen.

mirror in the green room



After Pierre Bonnard, oil on paper, 1908

She didn’t expect her guest to be so unimpressed,
so languid, so bored by her nakedness.

The bathwater has dried, but she has not dressed.
Her black towel pools on the tile like oil returning to bedrock.

This artist, her guest, who wears his pressed
white shirt unbuttoned like a thesis,

sits somewhere between the woman and the wall,
hemispheres of memory he modulates like juggling balls.

He is uninterested in his own reflection in the high mirror,
omits it, unhinges the triangle between his eyes, the mirror’s,

and the nude’s, who cups her breast as if performing
an illusion. He invites her to dress, as if inviting the fur

coat draped on her chair to curdle back into its animal form.
A memory doesn’t strike him, but finds him:

another room, another green, another facsimile of light
and a different set of golden shutters, the year of a different lover.

He’ll have to mix this color himself.
A long, cool, furrow of brown meeting lavender.


Jane Huffman is an MFA candidate in Poetry at the University of Iowa Writers’ Workshop. Recent work has been featured in West Branch, Witness, The Common, and elsewhere in print and online. She works as a staff director for Sundress Publications.

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