By Rose Winter

A love letter to a very human body, and a reminder that the outside gaze is no measure of yourself. 

My unpolished summer feet slide by the oiled thickness 
of the canvas. This Botticelli is no match for my flaxen haired friend, 
who mumbles of hunger and blisters. 

Have you ever seen a young family in a gallery, 
the flustered, blushed parent 
leading the child right up to the works, 
to no avail? 

What does their baby need with genius,
you wonder at them - well, this is now. 
Trying to coax this friend around. 

It seems a betrayal. 
A waste of a once in a life day, 
a day I have been uttering hope of now for weeks, 
into her blonde and smiling face. 

She knows, knows I need to be here, 
is trying to cut short the time. 

We trail the gift shop together, 
her hand on my back 
while I put suncream on my face, readying for outside. 

We step back into the golden light and shrieks of central Florence.
I, still in the shock of high art, 
her, on the hunt for lunch already, unfussed. 

In a pool together later, 
our arms wave together under the surface. 
I can’t remember what the arms on the canvas were like.
I think I see a cold look in my friend’s 
eye, as if she too is measuring my limbs 
against the diagram of right 
we saw earlier in the day. 

I step out of the water, 
wrap myself in a cotton sheet 
in case anything doesn’t add up. 

I know if I stepped naked out of the sea - 
in front of watching eyes - 
I would want someone to offer me a pink rug too. 
Gracious in a white and heavenly dress. 


Did Venus have to douse her words in silence?
 Sidestep when someone else whispered taboo: 
It happened to me too.


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