The Secret, Painting by William Bouguereau

by Polly Giantonio

Her shoulder,
soft and full as a swan’s breast,
illumines homely features
in graceful symmetry
ivory beauty with reticent eyes, adrift,
and full, sealed lips.
Behind her sister, eclipsed
by her honeysuckle aura, mutes a reprimand.
On the garden fountain
ledge, a child idly circles
a finger in water,
while her sister whispers
          Father would be furious
          but tell me, what was it like?