SWWIM publishes, celebrates, & promotes women, women-identifying & Femme-presenting writers through a Miami-based reading series & the online poetry journal SWWIM Every Day.

Polka Dot Dress

Francesca Woodman (1958-1981), daughter of artists,

jumped from a Manhattan rooftop during a struggle

with depression. She gained posthumous fame

for her innovative photography of the body.

 

 

Your mother worked steadily

in the wake of your death,

peasant feet in painted slippers.

Shocked from function to form,

she blanketed a wall in Beijing

with pottery birds suspended in flight.

 

Your father abandoned abstraction,

clinging to the women he shuttered.

He clicked on a tattoo, kohl-rimmed zero.

The back of the model exposed

by her checkered schoolgirl uniform

stared at him, aperture of failure.

 

You—figure in the yellow wallpaper

blur of beautiful body and shadow

Eros with singed feathers and wild Psyche

Icarus with designer wings, fallen.

No ID but your polka dot dress and

your face, unrecognizable.


Angele Ellis is author of Under the Kaufmann’s Clock (Six Gallery), a hybrid prose-poetry tribute to her adopted city of Pittsburgh with photographs by Rebecca Clever; Spared (A Main Street Rag Editors’ Choice Chapbook); and Arab on Radar (Six Gallery), whose poems won her a fellowship from the Pennsylvania Council on the Arts. She is a contributing editor to Al Jadid Magazine.

To Answer Verlaine

The Chrysanthemums. Liège, 1968