To understand what it would be like
to remove my clothes
as painters do in portraits of themselves
I imagine I’m the woman
who knows her body
no longer belongs to the young artist
who painted herself before she had children,
before her topography was changed
by forces erosive as water and wind,
and yet she goes on painting it,
the girdle of her earth that is now an etched terrain
crossed with silver rivulets.
And hills, I want to say to her.
Valleys. Then hummocks,
hot springs, hoodoo. What is art about
if not depression? Uplift? Depression
again? At which she straightens
the flesh of her shoulders and neck
to face me before I disappear
my favorite state of undress.