Selections from “The Woman in an Imaginary Painting” by Tom Montag

No, you do not
know who she is.
And you do not

know how you know
her. She is not
of common face.

She has no fame
other than her
loveliness. Yet

somehow you still
recognize the weight
of this moment

and you cannot
turn from her,
you cannot turn.
______________________

There are no
abstractions
in her world:

The idea
of table
is the table
she rests against.

The idea
of window
is the window
in her wall.

The idea
of breast
is her breasts,
their loveliness.
______________________

Breath and spirit
lend beauty
to her silence.

The woman
in the painting
wears the air

like wet silk.
Nakedness is not
her only promise.
______________________

She does not
show pain. Her

strength revels
in other light.

She can hold this
pose forever.
______________________

We can’t see it:
we can only

imagine
the happiness,

the anticipation
as she waits

for the moment
the posing is done

and she can be
the woman she wants.




Tom Montag‘s books of poetry include: Making Hay & Other Poems; Middle Ground; The Big Book of Ben Zen; In This Place: Selected Poems 1982-2013; This Wrecked World; The Miles No One Wants; Imagination’s Place; Love Poems; and Seventy at Seventy. His poem “Lecturing My Daughter in Her First Fall Rain” has been permanently incorporated into the design of the Milwaukee Convention Center. He blogs at The Middlewesterner. With David Graham he recently co-edited Local News: Poetry About Small Towns.

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