Traci O'Dea

In the Sun Room

 

                                after Édouard Manet
 

A wife sits on a bench in a solarium;
her husband leans against the bench's spindled back

as if he's leaning elbows on a jury box,
convincing twelve fine citizens the innocence

of the accused. She listens, forces eyes so wide,
appearing interested but staring out beyond

the sunroom's glass. In contrast to her broom-straight spine
and hat tied on as if to lock her jaw, her arm—

draped languidly across the painted splat and staves
that separate them—seems unnaturally relaxed,

at home, at ease. And in the center of Manet's
long-hidden masterpiece, her ungloved wedding hand,

the hand her husband's tapered finger and cigar—
like knives—are pointing to, rests limp, defeated, dead.

The painting's mostly green and blue with little red—
her lips, her cheek and ear, pink blossoms just beside

her neck, one (rose? geranium? hibiscus?) bud
above her head, and one dark bloom behind his back.