Chana Bloch

Beaux Arts

They knew something about pleasure, too,                            
those painters—how well they understood                   
it may be compounded                                           
of the simplest elements, the merest trace                                          
of water or light.  
Courbet's L'Origine du monde, for instance.             
The bedclothes are thrust aside 
and a woman's fleshy thighs 
sprawl across the canvas toward you 
as you approach.  
Courbet studies his nude with the diligence                            
of a lover. And lets you see         
in the reddish fur 
at the body's threshold
a hint of wet 

like the dab of white in the iris                                                       
that lights the eye.