Lucy as a Work of Art by Jennifer Finstrom

Lucy as a Work of Art
—Secrecy has this disadvantage: we lose the sense of proportion; we cannot tell whether our secret is important or not. –E.M. Forster, ‘A Room with a View’

You’re reminded of the chapter titles
in E.M. Forster’s A Room with a View
where Lucy is variously lying to George,
Cecil, Mr. Beebe, Mrs. Honeychurch,
Freddy, the servants, and Mr. Emerson.
Not that you’re specifically lying to anyone,
but there is a growing current of things
remaining unsaid, and this makes you
uneasy, makes you think, too, of what
you choose to include in poems and
what you choose to omit. Last night
you found the conversation you were
having over dinner difficult, weren’t sure
which of your stories to tell or how
to tell them. On the first date you went on
with this man, he told you that your
eye contact was unusual but a turn on,
and last night you gazed at him steadily
as you sipped your beer, unsure of what
you were trying to convey. Forster’s novel
chronicles Lucy’s search for beauty,
truth, and love even as she was lying
to herself, and you think of George
discarding her postcards of The Birth
of Venus and the Guido Reni Madonnas
because he didn’t want her to see
that they’re covered in blood. Every poem
you write could be different, could offer up
that one detail that changes everything.

by Jennifer Finstrom

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Editor’s Note: Poems written in second person point-of-view are strange and unsettling, and this choice perfectly supports the oddity of this narrator’s thought pattern.