Barbara Ungar – Venus with a Mirror


after Titian

Love expects her own radiance to last
           Her large soft body,
doughy belly and arms
no woman today would want,
                                      but the face—
supermodel gorgeous,
in golden curls braided with pearls—
looks over her shoulder.
                               Behind her
a cherub’s about to bonk her over the head
with a wreath.
                   Beside her
another sturdy cherub holds up
the heavy mirror.

                    Between them

                                       the vertical
slice of her
              framed by the mirror
                                        doesn’t match
one large dark eye
like a horse
               the flesh beneath it sags
                                                 She sees
what any woman sees
                            in a mirror
her worst
            The old woman
                                rising toward her
a goblin shark
                  The dark wood frame
a coffin lid.

From Save Our Ship, Ashland Poetry Press, 2019

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Barbara Ungar
Barbara Ungar’s fifth book, "Save Our Ship", winner of the Richard Snyder Memorial Prize from Ashland Poetry Press, was named to Kirkus Reviews’ Best Books of 2019 and won a Benjamin Franklin award in the Independent Book Publishers Awards. Prior books include "Immortal Medusa", named to Kirkus Reviews’ Best Books of 2015; "Charlotte Brontë, You Ruined My Life"; "Thrift"; and "The Origin of the Milky Way", which won the Gival Prize and a silver medal in the Independent Publishers Book Awards. A professor at the College of Saint Rose in Albany, NY, she lives in Saratoga Springs.