Prose Poetry: Mona Lisa’s Shoulder

I imagine that Mona Lisa’s shoulder is typical, just about the same as any other woman’s shoulder in her day and age, though I have never really noticed—and neither have you. Admit it right now that you are not completely sure of the color of her clothes, even, let alone how the blouse fits, how it sits on her shoulder (it’s down and loose so that a bit of skin is showing), and if you did happen to remember either of those facts, and you are raising your arms in triumph, I wonder if you could tell me more about the subtleties of that shoulder—is it relaxed or does the angle feel tense, does the shoulder seem to ache or hang with a certain awkwardness—perhaps from too much work, or maybe not enough—to what extent does the shoulder match the most famous parts of her, in their clever, wan allure, are we to assume anything so boldly from that shoulder alone the way we do when we are entranced by the gaze. All the rest is lost in haze, for me at least—and you, can you tell me what lies just beyond her shoulder and off to the side in the backdrop?


Mona Lisa, you might as well only be a notable name attached to a face and nothing else. Nat tells me that your mouth is a mystical contradiction, warm and real yet somehow still cold and lonely, I know that folks pile into the Louvre line for a mile or more just to walk past and catch sight of that slight upturn in your lips. I have been to Paris, Mona, and seen the glass pyramids rising askew like long-buried cosmic cubes from out of the museum concrete. But, I’ve never found myself in front of you—I’ve only seen your picture when reproduced and then you’re so often blurry and off-color. If I ever do see you, I swear I’ll study your shoulder first—for one, I want to know if there are dots of dandruff there, like sea salt dusted on the dark cloth, or did Da Vinci decide to leave out such details—even while everyone around me marvels at your smile, they’ll whisper and shush that it’s somehow both subtle and overpowering, I’ll be searching a bit further down and slightly to the right…


That is, of course, assuming that I ever make it back to France, and the chances of that trip coming anytime soon are—let’s be honest—slim, with so many other worlds (and words) weighing on my own shoulders, promising to pound me into place right here, deep into the ground, if I don’t keep moving, all smiles or not a one, keep moving, bear the ache, walk or run, no matter, now just keep moving, moving, move me, Mona, move…


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