The Acquiescence of Motes (Purity)
by Lynsey Griswold
When we were fourteen, we were noticed.
I, naked in the forest, rubbing against fallen trees,
kkkkkkwas confronted by a stag —
kkkkkkstartled still; urgent white breath;
kkkkkkmucus hanging, perilous, from his mouth.
We regarded one another and I saw my pale flesh in his eyes,
kkkkkktears pooling in my collarbones.
I thought of a woman.
Audrey, in daily dress and heavy hat,
kkkkkkwatched herself, not the wares
kkkkkkin the window on Fifth Avenue.
The photographer, cheeks flushed at
kkkkkkAthena peering out from her pupils,
kkkkkkwatched her, too.
She smiled through the thick city air.
kkkkkkbut never said
kkkkkkthat existence is realized
kkkkkkin the slow drag of eyes along the body.
We are made human by it.
Our memories, our selves, began
kkkkkkwhen we saw ourselves reflected.
Audrey picked up the habit —
kkkkkkand I, too, a century on —
of never saying no.
This is how you get ahead, of course,
kkkkkkbut it has also been, and will remain,
kkkkkka forearm raised to block.
In the freedom of yes
kkkkkkwe ascend as dust motes in the sunshine of watching,
kkkkkkthis rising more livable than temperance,
and so we are swept along
kkkkkkand think of it as floating.
Nicknamed “Miss Manhattan,” “American Venus,” and “The Perfect Woman,” Audrey Munson was the most famous art model of the Beaux Arts period. Her likeness, as created by the greatest artists of her time, graces bridges, monuments, building facades, and fine art museums around the world, with concentrations in New York and San Francisco. She was blacklisted at age thirty after her name was implicated in a murder scandal, and at forty remanded to a mental institution, where she lived until her death at 104 in 1996. You can read more about Audrey Munson here.
Lynsey Griswold is a writerly type who focuses on the congruent corners of gender, feminism, porn, and culture. She has written for outlets as diverse as Bitch Magazine, McSweeney, Bust Magazine, Luna Luna Magazine, Refinery29, Menacing Hedge, the Doctor T.J. Eckleburg Review, and Juggs, to name a few. The winner of a Feminist Porn Award for her documentary film, “Consent: Society,” now blogging at LynseyG.com, finishing a graphic novel (forthcoming from Oneshi Press), and completing a memoir (forthcoming from the Overlook Press, 2017).
Photo courtesy of Sima Ajlyakin.