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This poem is taken from PN Review 251, Volume 46 Number 3, January - February 2020.

Olympia and other poems Heather Treseler
Olympia

Manet aimed for the pantheon but became a pariah
with his portrait of a courtesan, her bright white
crinoline body unfurling like a flag of surrender,

her come-hither look as startling now as in 1863.
So too, the black servant giving her mistress
side-eye appraisal of this latest provocation,

no stranger to how a woman might manage
the fact that her imperiled body is for sale.
This is not love on auction. And you and I 

are not in Paris, considering the original. Friends,
would-be lovers, a black man and a white woman,
we sit in a posh cafĂ© three thousand miles from

the first blush of scandal, crowds so incensed
the Salon hired a pair of constables to stand guard
beside the bold prostitute and her bouquet-bearing
...


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