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Published: Fri Jul 1 2011
Salman Toor, Fag Puddle with Candle, Shoe, and Flag (detail), 2022. Courtesy of the artist and Luhring Augustine, N.Y. Photo: Farzad Owrang.
Sex Odalisque

_                     _Pity the still of the sitter’s
routine, recumbently stuck in her dull rapture rut,
_                  _ par for the course, and no
worse for the wear. What static, vacuous labor
_     _it takes, to stretch out a couch, to keep a look put,
_                     _the de facto embargo

_           _ on rising or sighing, not to fritter
an itch, not straighten a slouch or tuck in a foot
_                  _ but to remain so ably, so
_       _complacently lush, contained and unstirred,
_                  _ attained and untouched.

Hailey Leithauser is the author of two poetry collections: Saint Worm (Able Muse Press, 2019) and Swoop (Graywolf Press, 2013), which won the Poetry Foundation’s Emily Dickinson First Book Award and the Towson Prize for Literature. Her work has appeared in The Birmingham Poetry Review, 32 Poems, Cincinnati Review, The Hopkins Review, Plume, Poet Lore, AGNI, Alaska Quarterly Review, Hampden-Sydney Poetry Review, and The Yale Review. (updated 4/2023)

Leithauser’s AGNI poem “The Moon Speaks of Polar Bears” was chosen for The Best New Poets 2010.

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