By Mark Yakich
Youíre supposed to start with the main scaffold of the body. I always begin, however, with the buttocks, then move upward with a small tremor for the spine, and finally plot out the head. My head has no eyes, no nose, no cheekbones. Nobodyís taught me how to draw them; yet somehow I manage to fit in the lips and mouth. But for those, I donít bother with charcoals. I use the hardest pencil because it makes the lightest line.
Sublimeówhat is it? Professor asks us. Sublimation of the gaze. What is it! He says, The Martyr rushes into the phone booth and comes out Mr. Arty. Professor thinks he's very clever. I have to admit, he is strangely attractive, like a child whoís been crying all night long.
Anton doesnít draw womenís nipples. I finally asked him why, and he said he doesnít look at them. What rot! The prick practically drools over them, even the old ladies! He denies it and says they're retired prostitutes. Teresa dared me to ask Professor where he finds these old bats, but each time I ask a question I feel like a kiss-ass. Today though, I felt like a surgeon. F pencil felt like a scalpel, or at least what I imagine a scalpel feels like. Funny how an Exact-o blade has never felt like a scalpel to me. At the long break, when Anton wasnít looking, I gave his nude peppercorn tits.
Iím in love. For real this time. He is black, has a body like a G. Gargoylian. Can hold a pose for 45 minutes, but he doesnít even see me. Betsy, Robert, Cinnie, Mirva, and Jerome think heís too perfect to draw. And I think Professor agrees. From the corner of my eye, I caught Professor dozing off at least twice, and then he said to Robert after class that he didnít think Raffa was coming back. Raffa. Too classical! What a name!
Professor says, Even Matisse couldnít have eaten a Cézanne apple. That sounds so beautiful, but what does it mean?
At the break we argued about which fruit is the sexiest. Pears are definitely the sexiest! Winnie said. No, no, bananas, said Robert. Then Professor broke in, Can we back away from the clichés for a while and really think people! I said, How come nobody ever considers the kiwi seriously. Why, for example, would anyone have ever called it a Chinese gooseberry when it looks more like a hippopotamusís nut? Nobody knew what I was talking about. At the end of the discussion Jerome admitted that he thought they were arguing about which fruit was sexist. Everybody laughed, but I didnít really get it.
Model didnít show up. So Professor pulled off his shirt, slipped off his socks, then delicately removed his pants. Started doing the two-minute warm-ups right there. I couldnít really draw him. Not that he wasnít holding the pose decently, but heís so hairy! Red-yellow hairs! Thank God the model walked in after 15 minutes. She looked up at him, said Gosh! We begin at 6:30, no? No, he said, and tried not to move.
If you're an artist or only someone passing by the cracked door of the studio, it may give you pleasure to see the look on the nude's face that only happens when nobody is looking. It may hurt her, standing in that awkward position. It may make you feel good inside, there, just beneath your gavel. Whatever the case, I apologize for your case.
Mark Yakich's first book of poems, Unrelated Individuals Forming a Group Waiting to Cross, was a winner of the 2003 National Poetry Series and was published by Penguin in June 2004. Visit his website at: markyakich.com.
Drawing by Mark Yakich