After Mary Cassatt's "Reine LeFebvre Holding Nude Baby"
They're cheek to cheek and dreamy-eyed, enfolded
in each other's arms, but loosely, curved
toward freedom, unlike us, who clenched and coded
red when separated. Did her nerves
hold through the teen years? Did she let her daughter
model for Modigliani? Soutine?
Accepting that she'd be their muse and flaunt her
cleavage more than talent? Did her fourteen-
year-old give attitude, like mine? arms crossed,
legs tangled underneath her chair, red eyes
determined in their vacant stare – the cost
of No! to boyfriends who've dropped-out and drive.
I bear her silence, leave books to wet her thirst
for salty seas, for putting herself first.
Marybeth Rua-Larsen lives on the south coast of Massachusetts, half-way between Boston and Cape Cod (but closest to Providence, RI), and teaches composition at Bristol Community College. Her poems, essays, flash fiction and reviews have appeared or are forthcoming in The Raintown Review, Angle, Crannog, The Poetry Bus, Free Inquiry and The Nervous Breakdown. She is a book reviewer for NYQ Reviews and won in the Poetry category for the 2011 Over the Edge New Writer of the Year Competition in Galway, Ireland.