One morning in Paris,
Where are you from? Exposed, gradually.
She abandoned the Orangerie to wander
to the Jeu de Paume where Lorna Simpson’s
solo show, her first in Europe, happened
to wait, as might a friend, for her.
In Waterbearer, the figure faces away, wearing only
a white shift, tilts two jugs—one metal, one plastic—of water
for reasons unknown. Into the black background,
she fades as if to discount her position in the composition,
her position as muse. Were she to tell her story, would it be,
even with her strongest muscle, she could not force Monet
to see, as she has, the river? Beneath the photograph,
vinyl letters reflect her memory:
She saw him disappear by the river,
they asked her to tell what happened,
only to discount her memory.
Her souvenir of that morning on the Seine.
on the Orangerie. Hadn’t she, as a girl,
Had each jigsaw of greens
and blues not cohered into a lily,
had she not let him
daub her vision,
had she not longed
to disappear into his impression,
had she not been taken
by the river,
would she have noticed
the museum guards who
followed her, the dark woman, across the gallery, as if they might
Kassy Lee is a poet and teacher. She has received fellowships from the University of Michigan Helen Zell Writers’ Program, Vermont Studio Center, and Cave Canem. She earned an MFA from the University of Michigan and is at work on her debut poetry collection.