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.

Figure Studies: Three Poems After Salvadore Dali: City of Drawers

Honey,
your fingers felt for the edge
and pried open the drawers of my body —
warped, soap-scented oak —
to feel the lace of my underwear,
to bite the buttons of my skirts.
You licked my pearls;
you studied my family recipes and asked
who cooked the red velvet cake, and
do I remember the taste.
You were the termite in the floorboards
of an antebellum hotel.

Fat, hollowed thing,
you laid on your back
and opened up so easily.
Fresh cedar chest
carrying your birth certificate
and the limbs of ex-lovers
wet with sawdust.
(I took a bracelet from one chewed wrist
when I thought you weren’t looking … )

Honey,
I know you’ll keep my trinkets
hidden for women to find.
You’ll crawl through streets
dressed in my journal entries
and then shed that skin behind buildings.
You’re just waiting to bury
my grandmother’s wedding ring
in the stinking dirt of your balcony.

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.

Figure Studies: Three Poems After Salvadore Dali: Specter of Sex Appeal

In the theater lobby, a mannequin with
legs like chopsticks
stabbing through bikini bottoms
throws her head back and chokes
a font of popcorn.

The pinch of her stomach
cooks the kernels!

the manager sells to me.
His hand sweats on the bone of her hip.

Another towering specimen
is bent at 2 o’clock
with hands tied behind her back.
Her breasts are like
the decorative pillows on his couch;
her breasts are like a boxer’s speed bag.
She spews soda when you pull her hair!
Step right up, step right up!

He forces clear cola into my cup and
shoves me into tiered seating
where silver shadows
creep across gnashing faces.
They are
waiting to grab the fat of my thighs
and they
squeeze during the chase scene;
they
trail butter in their clumsy thrusts to
thumb exclamation points. And

For the love of god,
will you keep still?

The leading lady
is about to be kissed.

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.