[from Carol Frost's Love and Scorn: New and Selected Poems, Triquarterly, 2000]
Egon Schiele's Wife
More since her illness he tried to think of her not purely as a wife --
as someone who finds herself trying to please, to
be of his mind.
The spread legs and bunched up slip,
the reddened labia, and an almost compulsive
they were his wishes.
As for her --
sprawled like a goose sideways down the wind whenever he drew
her sex --
what was enfevered began slowly to fade
and she was lost to him (you know how that feels?).
He drew her face, then gave her pen and paper
so that she might leave behind for him
love's avowals. In the weirdly devastated eyes
of the earlier self-portraits, where aloneness exaggerates everything,
he hadn't yet mourned yet almost seemed to know. . . .
Ah, she'd have gladly lingered
in that yellow and ocher room that willed and
willed and willed her,
for just a bit longer,
but found Death determined
and went with him, whose whispered secrets and stale fragrance
mingled with decay excited her. The artist stepped to the morning
window and looked at the quieted-down square. -- A clearer
feeling now: the nude heart in ecclesiastical colors
above the city's grayness. Their erotic life.
And something more, exhaustion,
like halos in an unexpected gust of wind surrounding a tree's last
Love and Scorn: New and Selected Poems