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La Grande Odalisque

a poem inspired by a sensual painting by Ingres

That look she casts over her naked shoulder,
the long expanse of smooth alabaster skin.
The knowing painter's eye examines ever deeper,
while I hardly would know where to begin.

The elongated supple spine and velvet skin
invite the gentle touch of ling'ring fingertips.
And yet her gaze denies the hithering
and holds voyeurs at bay with pouting lips.

What calculus did Ingres make
to paint the brimming passion chilled,
the smothered heat? Her cool eyes slake
the yearning first aroused, then stilled.

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