Figure Studies: Three Poems After Salvadore Dali: Girl at the Window

I am his seashell,
a souvenir pulled from the sand and placed on the sill.
I keep something hidden beneath my brittle skin —
it swims like silk in the half moon,
it invites the hands of seaweed,
it surfaces when he’s not looking.

So he paints in vain.
He is on his knees
adding light to the corner of my curls,
wind to the distant sails.
With his thumb, he
smudges the shadow of my skirts —
A still life, at bay.

The silver plates he brings are
piled with bread and cheese, and
poor fish caught fresh,
boned and seared.
He garnishes them with pearls
I do not wear (as he would hope), but
chew and swallow -—

and spit out the window when he’s not looking,
when he is too busy scribbling me
to see them swim away.

Nissa Lee’s poetry has appeared in Wicked Alice, Breadcrumb Scabs, and Mannequin Envy. She studies creative writing in the MFA program at Rutgers University in Camden.