The Bather- Paul Cezanne

Two Poems

by Patty Mooney

Millais Paints Mariana

The woman in the window an artist and poet
calling back phantoms and witches.
Bottle-green saints and castles gather
the light in the room and in her face.

Her needlepoint window seat, a palette,
captures leaves at her feet. She stretches,
low back anguish. In darkness an altar,
movement escapes vision: a mouse.

All the force between she and satyr
an angel on her crewel finger.


I am a child locked out of your forlorn house-
hold, my nightmare search for familiar surroundings.
All I tried to tell you come,
stones out my mouth, a pride of cries.

As my memory has it
your spent, lost spirit and my timidity
bring us together in the biceps
of the furniture store you manage.
You sell interiors:
televisions full of baseball games,
brick-a-brack, knick-knacks, anything
that will warm your cold flat.
No heat save for the stove in the same room
as your four-poster bed and Charlie Brown bedsheets.

You come live with me in my studio apartment. Middle of the night, chardonnay-colored cockroaches
horrified I meet in the bathroom.
You mutter yourself back to sleep.
No sympathy.

You are most potable sailing,
what you love best.
We circle Angel Island, marvel Sausalito
in our washboard sloop.
You test your Galilean spunk
tack real fast out and back
under Golden Gates
when fresh pea-soup weather carries the sun
to the skyline of the city we met in.

Gay French Almira
whose guitar-shaped body you lust after
plays your strings.
When she calls to offer music
she wants me.
You are Indian-head-nickel forbidding.

At Sutro Baths, gay men
in the shower, the locker room, the steam bath.
Me, a deviation everyone wants to try.
You want to get butt-fucked.

Much later I would find
on dog-ear photos Irish Mike,
teenage furniture mover,
and you, panning for the camera.
Him playing like he was taking all of you
up inside his head and you, pretending
passivity in garters and seamed stockings.

My kind of lovemaking not stormy enough,
too sophomoric, not lurid
enough. You butterfly sail
your motorbike to Hayward, me clinging,
in reply to an ad in the Berkeley Barb:
"Wanted: B & D Aficionados".
You want to trade me in
for someone who will hurt you.
We inspect chains and leather,
leopard skin chambers of musk and old semen.
Swimming in the lust of the moment
I expect you to take me
in the shadow of the hanging gallows,
to wrap me in cowhide and fur, to stake me.
The space between us: what you want
and what I afford to give.

You are caught on your sloop for what
Irish Mike had been glad to sell. You ply
a twelve-year-old with brandy, he remembers
your face in court. You pulled down
his pants, things he can't quite
recall but sick you deny everything.
Visiting Sunday you deny most of it.
And beg me get rid of a black suitcase
in the bowels of your boat.

While you are incarcerated
I dismantle your black alligator
evidence: you and Irish black and white
glossy Mike rubbing and sucking each other's
hearts; a collection of dildos to eleven inches;
garters, bras and panties not mine; a jar of Vaseline.
You never wanted a woman, wanted to be one.
You would have liked for me to spike
heel you in one orifice, out another. I trash
your decadent dreams portfolio, its lead weight
ballast, your Flying Dutchman soul.

Patty Mooney is an adventure-traveler who enjoys mountain biking, surfing, scuba diving, and camping. These are her favorite ways of "accessing" the essence of nature and inviting the muses to inspire her poetry. She graduated herself from a Creative Writing program at Michigan State University, leaving school after sophomore year to hitchhike to California and "be a writer living by the ocean." She met her soulmate on Valentine's Day of 1982 and sees each day as a new slate of adventures.

"Mesmerized" is about a time in my life when I allowed the tides of my life to shift according to a man whom I loved. After two years of unrequited love (how could he love me when he did not love himself?), the relationship ended because he had a sexual confusion which tormented both of us until he made some "chess moves" that ended with his King falling and my Queen leaving the board. "Millais Paints Mariana" is a poem that seemed to write itself after I had seen Millais' painting called "Mariana," and it so related to where I was; it was as though I was Mariana.

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