Balloon Seller (Marchande de Ballons)

Though black and white,
she stands midnight blue.
A perfect vertical bow
on her sateen apron
cinches her waist.
Thin latex worlds,
being what they are,
must be sold with gravity,
thus, a pointed-toe pose.
Her pride is reflected
in a cloisonné circle
around her throat and
her white enamel eyes,
but she shields the truth
of her hands in her apron
top and behind her back.
Dark green balloons,
full to near bursting,
bunch captive around
a besom holder. There,
a thin wooden chair,
holding her wares for
the photographer (he’s
promised to buy them
all), struggles to hold still,
like the baize pool table
in The Night Café, an animal
straining not to skulk away,
off the print, to the bazaar,
while it’s still light.

from Irving Penn’s Small Trades, 2009

P. H. Coleman graduated a fine art BA, sold shoes and ad copy, and taught chemistry at university and high school for years. Though a PMY, he still has things to say, and has done so in obscure publications in Vermont and Missouri. He is at present safely woven into the Vermont hills with three dogs who tell him what to write.

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1 Response to Balloon Seller (Marchande de Ballons)

  1. L.K. Latham says:

    Lovely description of the photo. You’re sending me a new story.

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