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3 Jul 2023



Full Moon


Jul 17th


Jun 18th

After Titian’s Portrait d’une Femme

à sa Toilette (1515)

                        Numb as ice, elbows and fingers. Yet I smile

                        as you order. Play the enigmatic belle

                        torrent of crinkled hair caught above slim

                        shoulder, eyes black with pleasure at the smell

                        of unguent oozed on wrist, the louche slide

                        of linen on washed skin. Behind me, a shield

                        shaped mirror, a page whose very glance bleeds

                        juvenile desire. Cramp gnaws my goosebump limbs

                        your rainbow-crusted hands. Each blemish

                        painted out, peach-bloom flesh brushed edible

                        for merchant appetites. Together, we cook a fine dish

                        you and I, ambrosian fare confected of lies.

Behind the poem...

My poem Embellished (‘A Gram of &s’ poem – a form devised by poet Terrance Hayes) was born of my fascination with Titian’s Portrait dune Femme à sa Toilette. It shows a young woman, partly clothed, with a page who is holding up a mirror while she dresses her hair. I thought about the life of Titian’s model: probably a Venetian sex worker, as well as his mistress. About how this portrait was a collaborative effort between the two of them – woman and artist – to make a seductive female image for a rich male audience. But how true is it as a portrait of the real her? Did she and Titian see it as a clever fabrication? Is this all art ever is?

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