Laurette, who liberated whom? Or was it a release,
an opening between y’all like a wind
shifting the air quality over the city?
Out of the 512 pages detailing Matisse’s
life conquering color, six pages name you.
What were you doing in Paris in 1916?
The scholar speaks of you offering no citation
but many verbs dressing you up,
reclining you out, unfolding you,
and setting you to sleep.
I’ve been asked to answer why I want to know you.
But the sky is blue, and I am busy answering emails.
While Matisse painted you, a world war
was happening. What did you worry over
and what frightened you? Frightened for his son,
Matisse left the city that winter.
You never sat for him again. The scholar asks if Matisse liberated you.
This word—liberation implies he set you free from restrictive or discriminatory social
conventions and attitudes. But your every action
smoking naked in the window
shows you unbothered,
not oblivious, by his borrowing of your green robe.