Marlena Chertock

Today he’s drawing a naked man leaning back on his hands,
stretching his stomach and neck upwards, his penis reaching the opposite way.
He’s only seen himself and a friend naked;
they changed in the middle school locker room, skinny dipped with a girl one summer.
It surprises him when the man undresses, throwing his shirt,
then jeans, then blue checkered boxers on a small chair.
Now he is focused, glancing then looking away, almost blinking,
to see then draw how big his soleus muscles are, the curve of his nostrils, the precise shape
of his penis, the hair that inches up his stomach.

It’s Tuesday, and she’s back, gingerly unclasping her baby blue bra with light pink dots.
Her legs hang over the side of the stage, as if she’s sitting in a chair.
“Am I in the right place?” she asks,
and students answer, “Move your leg to the left, grip your knee tighter.”
Her hair doesn’t cover her nipples like it did last class.
“Now I can’t see her nips,” a guy snickers behind him.
He swallows, stares at her breasts, and slowly draws a curved line.
He’s not an art major, but something about bodies makes him want
to draw the jut of a knuckle, perfect the texture of bone under skin,
erase and re-sketch the curvature of lips and spines and knees.


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