A town no one lives in
Must be everywhere around us
Accounting for the hysteria
Of any pose. As we see into
The laugh of things fields or folds
Of wrinkled blue appear divided
Into secondary propositions
Of a primary fact, that fronts are lighter
Than backs because attention presents them
And the body offered for inspection
Attempts to master its overlit house
By pointing up specific parts,
One hand at the neck’s pulse while
The other wraps or reprises the waist.
None of which should be visible
In the mirror behind but is, nor should
Flowers grow up out of the dark
Of the back but they do, for centuries
Now without getting any larger.
It doesn’t help that the right arm around
Her waist seems to grow from her torso
Rather than her underwhelming shoulder
Or that the left arm’s elbow drives
Up from resting on the right hand,
Intent on ending in a hand of its own,
Which supports the canted chin
Only by indicating it exists in space.
I happen to know for a non-fact
It was raining on this particular day
So no reason to have the face
Display any obvious flowers
Of an agony collected everywhere
Beyond the frame in Haussonville,
Where it only rains outside,
Where Ingres invented the entre-nous
As a repopulated network of the glance
Figured also in the interior monolog
The surface of her body causes. You
Can see the modern prison forming too
If you close her eyes, which are and are not
Looking at you, a glance with two fronts,
Two backs, a front and a back, or a half.
“That’s where she lacks support” (overheard
On the 51B at College and Alcatraz)
But I trust support is there, a past
Of intentional oil spills across canvas.
It was flowering out that endless day,
Writing out a copy of the red,
Pinks, yellows, and whites of other
Days, each the only example
At hand. And no matter who you are
She is bemused and pessimistic
Your damage can see her padded hurt
Though by her I mean the hand of Ingres
To which both of hers invisibly point
Throughout. This is happening and not
Happening, like the things in a mirror
Whose frame escapes the picture’s own
And has a candelabra attached to it
But no candle, not even an unlit one,
So daylight and the phantom presence
Of a forgetful servant who could have been
Called by the blue bellrope closely
Tracking down that part of the mirror’s gilt
Frame the painting allows us to see.
What else do we ever know but that
Torsos sitting on hips the way pots
Cut flowers have been dropped in rest
On credenzas themselves covered in blue velvet
Are what is only partially occluded here.
It’s been done before; even admitting
It’s been done before’s been done, but not
In Haussonville, where it rains supports
Of all kinds, and variations on blue,
Enough to populate a sitting room
The single figure richly parses,
Trapped in what has been called
A rainbow of blues, deep but narrow
Luxury reflected in a mirror
Into which you can and can’t possibly be seeing
Accurately. She would go on to write
Romantic novels and historical studies
Even though her hand will never leave
Her chin, the chin of a great-granddaughter
Of Louis XVI’s finance minister, Necker,
The last Comptroller General of Finances
Of the Ancien Regime. It is 1842
But is this Paris or Haussonville? Yes,
But there’s more, because she is further
The granddaughter of Mme. De Staël
So that all this trivial importance stacks
Behind her glowing face like the eighty
Studies Ingres made for the portrait,
Including sixty for the gown alone,
While the many blues of the painting
Pass into and out of the uniform shade
The revolutionary army’s soldiers wore,
Now reduced to the “storm of approval”
With which the painting was received
By friends and family. She also wrote
A biography of Byron, which her gown
Doesn’t yet clearly predict.
Like the dream of seeing hidden things
And the hugest processes therein
The blue only refers, is “of,” genetic
And hard to kill off.  It is 1845
Forever when the painting is completed
Though she herself is no longer
Twenty-four or anatomically
Incorrect as he has made her here.

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