The Ontario Royal Museum has my body all over it,
the one I had twenty years ago,
which is no longer mine, but the permanent body
of the pioneer Canadian woman—adventurous,
stoic, built to last. Another woman’s head is on my body
because I was not beautiful enough, though the artist
never said that to me. Between modeling sessions,
the other woman and I would pass in the hall,
never speaking, each half of the artist’s perfect whole.
She had the face a culture would launch ships for and I had
the body that could outride a country’s founding years.
In someone’s imagination, I have explored and settled
frontier Canada. After nearly a quarter century,
things may be sufficiently civilized.
The artist, of course, was sleeping with both of us.
I used to wonder if he saw her when he was making love
if the face of the young, strong woman lying beneath him,
in all the sinewy leanness I was then, had the dreamy,
beauty of a Helen, a Beatrice. And when he made love
to her, was it my body he felt? Is there a man out there
I’ve slept with twice as much as I remember,
a man riding the perfect woman to eternity?