A Conversation with Frau Schiele

A marriage is a marriage, no matter the man.
My mama told me that when I joined hands with Egon,
against Papa’s wishes. What I wanted from a life
with a painter was to be rendered as I truly am,
to have that trained artist eye locked upon me.
I didn’t want to graduate from bad-tempered daughter
to demure hausfrau. But now I’m alone in the kitchen,
slamming drawers as I did in Papa’s house, missing
my Mama’s scolding voice. Egon is always in his studio.
He only allows my entrance to unbutton my dress
and form those animal poses. To be near him
is to be reduced to line, the original curve of my face lost,
delineated to shape sharp angles. Under his hand
my body is one long skeleton, arched spine stretched
across the canvas in quick ochre scratches.
Should it matter to me that there is no likeness?
I tell myself it is only art. As my Mama said,
don’t hope so hard to be seen.

January 11, 2023

Shauna Shiff

Shauna Shiff is an English teacher in Virginia, a mother, wife, and textiles artist. Her poems can be found in or are upcoming in Stoneboat Literary Journal, River and South Review, and Cold Mountain Review.

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