Authors and Poets
Authors and Poets

Photos used with permission from the Academy of American Poets

Last updated:
September 5, 2018
Lori M. Cameron, editor

Woman As Art – Lorraine Tolliver

Spring 2002, vol. 6, no. 1

That public sculpture
known as a living, walking woman,
that practical outer product
which lounges over there
with the name of Julie, Linda, Sharon,
fares best as a simple, unadorned piece of art:
nose, eyes, chin—generic;
chest, arms, hands—unnoticeable;
sex flags unfurled.

She can be a masterpiece of plain form,
cosmetic flash shunned,
ornamental sparkle dimmed,
dramatic posturing subdued
so that subtle nuances
dance forward
to reveal her many-sided surprises.

Just now, notice, an angle of dare
which burns the air with defiance,
rippling out as far as can be followed.
Then may come a solid stance of sure idea
to stun all wavering lines of doubt.
Next perhaps thick, sticky passion will writhe and coil
into the cracks of indecision and glue them solidly.
Sometimes, thin hope can quiver
its pale thread across her breast and vibrate with light.

All these dynamic changes
nudge forward past the stolid figure,
gleam out in quick sketch
from the corners of a woman
and then slide, fluid,
back into the whole
while another part of her moves to the front.

An undecorated face and figure,
holding still, uncolored,
does not block
the brilliant show of the woman,
etching reality second by second.

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