She'd always wanted the graceful body 
of a ballerina, arms outstretched and fluttering,
with arched neck and doe eyes
weeping en pointe for her dying swan prince.
She imagined roses thrown at her feet,
bravos and accolades hurled before gracefully 
exiting the stage.

And so he painted her that way,
this tall wide-hipped woman
with succulent lips, full swaying breasts
meant to be caressed and set free,
not corsetted into a flat-topped ballet gown;
a woman with black wavy hair, too wild
and unruly to be held ransom 
by an uptight ballerina's bun.

She danced in her garden
with the hens and one cow,
grew her own roses, 
kissed her husband often.

On nights when the moon was full enough
to see clearly, her husband led her out
to where the wildflowers grew,
slowly undressed her, then slid inside 
among a moving pallet of colors 
until she gasped with delight.

The painting pirouetted through many galleries,
drew the accolades she'd always craved.
When admirers asked about the model, though,
the artist always offered a mysterious smile.

'She's a swan,' he said. 'A beautiful wildflower
found spreading its petals when the light 
of the moon is just right'.

Pris Campbell

Art: Model by Modigliani

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