She combs her hair as if to untangle
the tussle of his touch, powders plum skin
still stinging from his grizzled tentacle,
over is over when the pain begins.
Elderberry lips are smeared red to hide
the ache, and the baby that was to be,
a hated thing, no longer lives inside,
over is over, at last she writhes free.
Emerging from tide pools, how her eyes swell,
gleam blue, brim briny with bright tears of no;
her anguish, a warped lens, a fractured shell,
over is over wherever she goes.
Easy enough to layer a right hand
full of hair limp on the wild red rope held
snug by left, hand upon hand upon hand,
over is over, when love’s flame is quelled.
Not so simple now to grab another fist
full of life, or to be braided again,
when what blooms and wrenches within is missed,
over is over when twisted hurt ends.
I chose to write on “Girl Braiding Hair” because I have always been haunted by the sensuality of Renoir’s work. According to Tama Garb, the renowned art historian, Renoir was known as “above all, the painter of women.” The women he painted were often pictured as simultaneously innocent, provocative, pensive, alluring, enticing and unattainable. Perhaps it was these qualities of feminine allure and beauty that inspired Robin Dodge to create “Girl Braiding Hair” after the fashion of a Renoir woman. It is also such qualities in women that inspired poet, W. B. Yeats, to some of his greatest work. Although I admire and have always been inspired by the fine craftsmanship of his poetry, I have never attempted, until now, to write in the style of W. B. Yeats. It was, therefore, a wonderful challenge to have this opportunity to seriously emulate this poet I have always believed to be one of the greatest of all time.