after Fragonard

Jejune profiterole
in a pre-fab pastoral
as rustic as a butterfly tattoo—
                 there she flew

over my roommate’s desk
like a goddess of excess,
blessing all that lay below: a scarved lamp
                dampening

the room in boudoir haze,
Gucci bags, a frilly “chaise”
on which she’d lay out pink nightgowns and lie,
                who knows why,

about her age (my room-
mate, that is). The bloom
could never come off that rose—its genus,
                like Venus,

bred from some soggy myth
that grew to a labyrinth
of fad diets, couture, Audrey Hepburn
                films (she yearned

for her tiara’d twee),
and countless petits-amis
all Ivy legacies with fat trust funds
                who succumbed

to the lilt of her skirt,
ruffling their polo shirts
pink with desire. (Meanwhile, I got the boot.)
                Not astute,

let us say, they never guessed
that she was cleverer
than they, never saw the wheels’ gritted teeth
                beneath her faux
                                 Rococo.

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This article originally appeared in The New Criterion, Volume 38 Number 3, on page 29
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