by Chelsea Woodard
by Jenna Le
by Patricia Behrens
by Ernest Hilbert
by Linda Stern

In Preparation

Poem by Jeanne Marie Beaumont

Gustav Courbet, The Preparation of the Dead Girl, c. 1850-54


after Gustave Courbet


Save me—I’m caught in a net of quandary.

No sooner am I dressed than I am being taken

out of my clothes. Or are they helping me

into them? It appears I am being attired

for marriage, one of death’s deft hands.


Around me a clutch of women painted stuck like doors:

forever two hoist a sheet (some say a shroud),

one is drying or bathing my feet, another

brings a tureen to the table, or is she removing it?

The problem is art’s, but I’m in the midst.


Stockings, victuals, so-called shroud—all for me?

These women, are they what I was and will be?

Am I victim? Being prepped to be gazed at?

For some prone position? For a him?

Help me. It appears I can’t go forward or


backward. I’m awkward. Unfinished. I hold

a mirror as though approaching a gorgon,

a mirror that only I can look in. I have heard

the dead cannot face mirrors, nor can

the dead keep a mirror up. There. Breath.


I fog it with my breath. Oh, what is this sound—

stiff brushes turning into baffled hisses . . .

how my depiction’s deemed “mysterious.” But, isn’t

everyone’s? This miss tells two sure things:  I’m to be wed.

My paint is drying.  Guess whether I am dead or dying.