Edouard Manet’s Olympia, A Biography

by | Jun 16, 2021 | Poetry

Most women would never
climb over a row of seats at the opera house,
but my mother did and she was old
or what you might call old, with delicate bones
and a stylish, starch-white bob.
My sister and I were surprised (if not embarrassed)
but others were dazzled.
My father, he was incredulous
though I’m not sure why;
Mother rarely did what was expected.
After all she stayed with him,
and no one saw that coming.
All those nights in Warren, Ohio,
when he sat out back in his underwear,
grilling steaks and the very tenets of Catholicism
(he, himself, a convert who faked it badly for years),
the neighbors couldn’t imagine in their wildest dreams
the two of them driving west,
drinking beer outside the Winnebago,
naming constellations, or stumbling
up my grandparents’ stairs in the dark,
my mother laughing; then silence.
Then audible fucking.
As a girl she played on the wing of Amelia Earhart’s plane,
a detail she shared years later,
like any other, like her hair was once red,
like she wore a meal-sack dress
the day her father took a picture,
and she looked directly at the lens.

 

EDOUARD MANET'S OLYMPIA, A BIOGRAPHY by Deni Naffziger

 


 

Photo used under CC

About The Author

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Deni Naffziger lives in Athens, Ohio. Her work has appeared in The New Ohio Review, Pine Mountain Sand & Gravel, Spoon River, Pikeville Review. She has work forthcoming in Pudding Magazine and Northern Appalachian Review. Naffziger co-authored Revenants: A Story of Many Lives, awarded an Ohio Arts Council Special Projects grant. Her first full-length collection, Desire to Stay, published by Stockport Flats Press, was nominated for the Weatherford Award.