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Published: Fri Oct 15 1976
Diego Isaias Hernández Méndez, Convertiendse en Characoteles / Sorcerers Changing into Their Animal Forms (detail), 2013, oil on canvas. Arte Maya Tz’utujil Collection.

About suffering they were never wrong,
The Old Masters...

She gazes at the child on her lap
or stares off to one side
at some blur on the horizon,
not a wrinkle on her brow
spoiling the perfect egg-
shape of her face.

They always failed
to add the blood spot
in the white of one eye,
the sag of a breast,
worry lines tugging
at the bow mouth.

So easy for them to miss
these little imperfections,
not knowing the stretch
of skin like thinly rolled dough,
grind of muscle twisting
out the freshly crowned head,
the ache of nipples newly drained.

See what's inside AGNI 5 and 6

Barbara Eve’s poems have appeared in Antaeus, The Nation, AGNI, The Virginia Quarterly Review, and other journals and anthologies. She lives and writes in New York City where she works as an editor at the Metropolitan Museum of Art. (updated 1987)

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