Pablo Picasso, Woman with a Book

Yes here it is, a piece of lace, a button here, her breasts, a fold of blue cloth over the shoulder, it is bright it is alluring, oh a bit of sexuality here. Casual, unconcealed, unholy, and unmysterious. It is a thing like any other thing. Like a book; it’s everything, it’s nothing, it’s nothing. She is comfortable, sensual, knows her body. She is not returning our gaze; she is looking past us, over our shoulders. Our examining gaze cannot–will not, it must not–embarrass her. She is reading. We will not bother her. Yes they are rosy, see. she is brazen and free, and we are free like she is. This is nothing. We are comfortable, sensual, we know our bodies. We are not returning their gaze. We are looking over their shoulders. A bit of blue cloth wrapped around our arms, bright and alluring. But not as alluring or as brazen as our white and and rosy breasts on display for them. But we aren’t bothered, you see? We are reading. Unconcealed. Casual. Unmysterious and unholy. We are reading.
*originally published in Relief Journal, March 2011

Published by:

Johana-Marie Williams

Johana-Marie Williams is a writer, artist, and historian focusing on Black women and femme's health and religio-spiritual experiences. Her current projects include the ongoing zine caro and papers on the history of Black midwives in Leon County, Florida and Black women's thought on transhumanism, as expressed in science-fiction and fantasy media. Johana's work also appears under the name Marie Annetoinette, in homage to her mother's influence on her creative and spiritual life.

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