The Innisfree Poetry Journal

by William Rivera

Five Panties on the Clothesline

Owahu Agricultural Technical School, Ghana, 2006


Five panties on the clothesline flutter,

from two-year old to ancient auntie. 

I stop to frame what artlessly entices,

undies shining hot in sunlight pink.


My escort questions why I stare:

"What can it please the man from overseas

those panties in the breeze?"

Therein hangs a tale, mine, not theirs,

call it fetish or predilection,

it's not the breasts I hold as beauty

but what's behind Aphrodite's Kallipygos,

the anasyrma gesture, caught looking

back that moment

the question as if  to ask "Am I perfect?"

(And she is divine!)


The clothesline sequence touches on expectation, not mine,

theirs, though not the ones seen through:

love's laborers who made it to the well-known

shore, but those, so tiny, on the edge of hopes,

their baby odysseys of make-believe.


I see myself in each of these, the vert gallant,

the lover's tease, a moment in a fantasy,

a stranger's view of panties in the breeze.

Frozen Naked

             at the Metropolitan Museum

This is winter

a naked-woman with a shawl,

head and breasts sculpture-bare or nearly. 


And beauty's escape from violence,

she's a vine entwined in the telling since long ago:

a laurel leap from escapee to tree. 


There is no cure for what's revealed.

Art's empathy pours out in hot pursuit,

figures seen in crowded space


in solid metaphors unlike these abstract

words lined up in stanzas also wrapped

against the cold, escaping into living vines,


places where we tear off clothes, step out

into the open, twist into self's other,

run in space, frozen naked.

Copyright 2006-2012 by Cook Communication