Jenny Hubbard

In the year of our Lord, 1621, my husband paints me as a nun

His easel, his pigments, his hog-hair brushes. He sups,
I give suck, swaddle and trundle, before I put on
the get-up, hurry, while it’s still day, kick through
the door behind him. He positions me by the canal
under thick clouds, lead-tin yellow, white wimple,
black tunic. He sticks me in linseed oil. Where I stay,
stay, I darken a cloister, children marry
and die, I sweat in an attic, a man builds a palace,
I tickle spiders, another man hangs me
on a wall. For four hundred years
the paint dries. And it crazes. Thank God
for the bridge at the edge of the scene, thank God
the museum guard dozes. Watch me wriggle a foot
from its tight, laced boot, watch me tip from the frame
to the waxy floor, slip and slide, the door swinging back
on itself. Sunlight. Do you follow? I rip off the habit, sling it
across that stagnant water, limp beyond city and hunger,
backbone stiffer than winter woods. That ridiculous wimple.
Where did he hide my long, golden hair? I used to believe.
I bent to the soft blue promise of everlasting life, I served him
my soul on a palette, well,
he’s dust now, the asshat, and I’m walking,
laughing loud and last, as a matter of fact, I am
cracking up. Take a look at that hole
I’ve made in his canvas.