Scott Waters

Body of Work

Her sessions were the household secret,
wedged between walks
to baker, butcher, apothecary –

off would come the layers
of required modesty, folded in a
tower of black cloth on a chair,
her marble body breathing with relief
under a wind-thin sheet,
teeth clenched against the needle
plowing across her lower back, breast,
abdomen or calf,

depending on which region
of her ample canvas had not yet been
meticulously painted with the face of Jesus,
the Virgin Mary, golden poppies, grizzly bears,
hurtling trains, redwoods and sequoias,
and the faces of six American presidents
(Abraham Lincoln wondering mutely
how he got from the fields of Gettysburg
to a Victorian lady’s soft thigh).

When her husband came to view the body,
the undertaker heard “Holy Mother of God!”
from the next room, and wondered if
his own wife had similar mysteries
concealed about her person —
and if perhaps, were he to ask politely,
he might be permitted to view
her body of work before it
crumpled like the masterpiece
he had embalmed
and added his signature to
at 4 o’clock that morning.

© Scott Waters

Scott Waters lives in Oakland, California with his wife and son.  He graduated with a Master’s Degree in Creative Writing from San Francisco State University.  Scott has published previously in A New Ulster, The Pangolin Review, Amethyst, Verse-Virtual, Poetica Review, Ink in Thirds, Praxis, The Santa Clara Review, and other journals.

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