what happens when you come across a postcard
of a naked woman in a museum gift shop?
you make the purchase with your eyes trained
on the marble floor, guilt gnawing you the whole
way home. you hide the secret in your backpack,
praying Mama won’t fish it out.
the visual screams it has been too long since
women have been stripped bare to make art—
their bodies with their folds and undulations,
indents and bulges. question: are you staunch
feminist or supporter of bodies as commodities
when you procure the postcard?
the naked woman’s body haunts you: reclined
on the couch, her figure curves you do not have,
her gorilla mask grotesque and conniving.
closing your eyes, you recall the women
in the dim light of the galleries—the nudes,
heavy with brush strokes and acrylic, eyes,
set against kitchen tiles as he mixes the
darkest darks and the lightest whites.
when you finally become woman enough for
these paintings, there have already been hands,
snide remarks and drunken stupors, catcalls,
rubs that go the wrong way:
you are told a woman is meat as much as
art, porcelain as much as dust.
when will jawlines sharpen to defiant edges,
eyes stare back instead of averting gaze?
one day, the words that are drowned will rise up
like a wave lurching onto the remnants of a
flooded museum, the paint running to ruin,
returning the women’s bodies to themselves.
Faye Ng Yu Ci resides in Singapore, putting frames of light into photographs and verse. Her poems have appeared in Raven Chronicles Journal, The Bookends Review, and Cha: An Asian Literary Journal. She is currently a third year medical student journeying through her undergraduate degree.