Home > Poetry > Sex Odalisque
Published: Fri Jul 1 2011
Art: Paul TheriaultEver New (detail), 2022, acrylic and found paper on scavenged wood
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. She has recent or forthcoming work 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. She lives outside of Washington, DC, and teaches occasionally at the Bethesda Writer’s Center and the West Chester Poetry Conference. (updated 4/2022)

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

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