Gargoyle 10
cover image by Borislav O. Milutinovich
publication date 9/20/1978


Speaking Portrait of a Woman

David McAleavey

He said spring was his favorite green,
& me his favorite spring. . .
green looks all right on me,
but I didn’t care about the perfect,
Corot’s or his, achievement
of a fiction. I wanted to be found at home
in a touch. I wanted to be able to say
perfectly easily
I love you


I had one lover liked to make love
to other women in my presence
another who struck me with his belt
not hard just so it stung
they hurt me so much by wishing for more
of course I’d never be happy
as just an ordinary woman
but don’t hold that against me
I’ve always had to fight for orgasm
some failed me but most have come through
through me come through my struggle
which makes for no ordinary lovernaking with me
always screaming for my lovers to fuck me fuck
me fuck me because I need to find an equal
but when I find one he leaves
don’t hold that against me don’t


each kitchen cabinet is stacked
in my order
under the sink the vel coppermaid
brillo spaghetti pot
in my order and I photograph them
the surfaces of the silverware
even tho boxed in a tray from Dart Drug
are uneven the knives reflecting light
like a mirror-faceted globe in a disco
near-random but in the order of my living
and I photograph them
I photograph the medicine cabinet
hall storage closet car’s glove compartment
I photograph the clothes hamper
the lacquer box where I keep my earrings
–I look into the inside of the box, I photograph
the earrings in their order now-
and I set the camera down
dance to the bed proud of my body
the bed is hard with a bedboard
tho my husband has gone and other men
there will be another – tomorrow-
but now I am busy with the order of my living
with these interiors nearly haphazard
lips within lips
in my order

* * *

as a courtesy, out of love,
he’d said, silence the fire

I will not, I’d said,
we need the fire

but the world is tinder, he said

and I said
nothing’s as dry as the heart
of a man wanting his way

who is ash

who is ash