by Prairie L. Markussen
after Water Serpents II by Gustav Klimt
Who is the one looking down
at her, as she tucks into herself
and sleeps? She is shot through
with golden beads: a crown
for slumber. Her shoulder blades
curve like undeveloped wings,
and her chin tilts upward as though
in waiting. Flowers, blue, golden, surround
her. All this color
does not wake her. And a golden
line—a whip? a rope?—lays
along her back, her head.
Has its work been done, or
is it yet to come?
Is this relief or escape?
A feint, perhaps: playing dead
to keep the whip slack,
to unacknowledge that gaze.