WEB EXTRAPolishing Brass
Myra Wiggins used her housekeeper, Alma Schmidt, as a subject in several of her pictorial photographs of Dutch domestic life. Schmidt wore costumes and posed in a variety of theatrical scenes. No further record of their relationship exists.
No, more a holy meditation
On surface and stain:
Madonna with Vessel.
glow of white shoulders
rivulet of vertebrae
vestige of one breath-
and sexual arm
of the cauldron
as she curves onward.
than potent omen —
pyramid of saucepan top,
of water bucket,
angle of the invisible skin —
dimpled underneath her arranged garment —
conflicted as rosewater, as clotted cream.
Alma, grace of more
Our Lady of the Scullery Shimmer —
May I serve you?
Perhaps art as polish
gloss of what the photograph
pretends in voyeurism.
An aperture, a flash
of the nakedly conscious eye —
a part of and apart —
blessing identity until it blinds us.
Once, on a sunlit afternoon
a maidservant, an ingénue,
swept forward —
into what this moment you
in Almeria, Soho, Barcelona —
might admire, must revise —
a woman’s hand: fingernails, blue.
— Susan Rich
* * *
Mr. Myra Albert Wiggins
Recalls Their Arrangement
Maybe it was the bicycle. The way her hips
rose up and up — as if directed straight to heaven —
Like a Venus. And a banker’s daughter — true.
Real original, this girl — a bicycle, a camera,
other newfangled tools. So I sent her bolts
of ribbon, overalls, and boots — anything to make her squint
her eyes and glance one day toward me — me: Fred
Wiggins of Wiggins Bazaar — 123 Commercial Street.
More of a back-up boyfriend, for someone like Myra
her family would say. Everyone knew she was in love
with her own life: bareback rides, opera singing,
and the New York artiste nights. But I expected
to live a little, too. And so if there were men
of Salem, Toppenish, Seattle, lovely and rich —
who snickered at our last–season suits
and sequined gowns, who hinted not infrequently —
that a husband should not be so happy
packing picture frames and mounting
photographs. Christ. They knew nothing
— Susan Rich