A Mother Dressing Her Son in a Kimono

By Paula Bohince

A Mother Dressing Her Son in a Kimono. Fitzwilliam Museum, University of Cambridge, UK / Bridgeman Images.

He stands, suddenly more man than animal,
but naked and bald-headed, his penis a bashful sprig.
Spring has delivered its news. She kneels
and guides the sleeves over fresh muscles. Her breasts
retreat back to ornament. The romance of their first
year together, milky nights in bed, quietly ends.

—After the woodblock print A Mother Dressing Her Son in a Kimono by Suzuki Harunobo, 1724–1770, Japan

Paula Bohince is the author of The Children (2012) and Incident at the Edge of Bayonet Woods (2008), which was nominated for the Los Angeles Times Book Prize. Her poems have appeared in The New Yorker, Poetry, The Irish Times, The Nation, Granta, Slate, and The Yale Review. She received the 2013 George Bogin Memorial Award from the Poetry Society of America.

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