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Kelly R. Samuels

The Anatomical Venuses: Clemente Susini & Wax

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Warming it is key, is what needs to be done.
Yes, turpentine. Yes, colors. The cheeks pink. All this is true,
but warmth is paramount, lends itself to malleability. Like youth.
The younger, the more pliant. The bent knee.
You understand, yes?

I knead and form, discarding the rotting cadavers
when the stench becomes unbearable. April and May,
September and October.           Even January, if need be.

August is for departing, or working in the bowels
of somewhere, the walls still somewhat cool to my touch.

These girls, these girls – not unlike Christ, their blood
vessels silk threaded just below the surface with its sheen.
Their ecstatic faces as if ascending, as if meeting their maker.
That kind of rapture.

I can only guess.
Rolling the nugget of beeswax, of tallow, between
my fingers.

Can only imagine
and then sculpt, my hands itching to mold, to do. Always.
No Pygmalion, but artist, busy, busy.

I will be praised for the beauty
which I gave to the most revolting things

The Anatomical Venuses: The First Demountable Speaks

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Is what is found there most important –
in that pear-shaped organ as long as I have parts,
that floating thing?

Nestled, sleeping and then not. Perhaps. Though
there are other layers to me.
And my glass eyes. And human hair taken
from some dead girl, one of the two hundred
who served.

Look at me. Some kind of Eve, I am.
You there, strolling past
my rosewood and glass box. Stopping. Seeing
with your dirty mind what wasn’t there then. Thinking
that expression on my face is of the body. Then skipping
to the next track, the silicone doll with her wide
eyes and big lips. Go ahead, I’ll forgive you.

Because you’ll come around.
Because you’ll come to understand
just how complex I am. The fetus’s nest
and then, moving outward,
its agate-like coating.
And the shiny mahogany-colored liver
and the red glazed forked thing suggesting choices.
The stomach huge with tendrils.
And above, my sac-shaped heart,
nubby and veined. And then, outward again
to the intestines, scalloped and rough, like that outcropping
you walked out on once.
And my lungs like wings.

Eventually, my exterior and the pearl necklace I wear
that serves as cover. And my eyes,
looking off to the side, catching
glimpses of you.

And all this not even all.

I am no doll.
I am something bred
from the hand of God.

Contained Escape on Display

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Eurydice in Flight, Varujan Boghosian

The left arm extends, strident pose.
In tatters, she seems to know where

she’s going, though she
cannot see. Headless,

but intent.
There’s been this before

outside this box.
Days when the request

was to settle down, slow down.
Or: Let me help with that.

But she won’t
or can’t. It’s as if she

is running out of time.
Sometimes she passes

me on the stairs. She’s behind
and then ahead.

Recall that Hardy novel,
Tess looking in the mirror?

Some sort of recognition
of expiration. A shudder

once a year. Maybe
it’s that she’s fleeing

from. I don’t know.
I see her going, though. Although

she hasn’t gone quite yet.
And see how she’ll hit a wall soon.

And behind, another, and beyond
that, planets perfectly aligned?

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