Suzanne Valadon Poses for Renoir

by Ann Hostetler

He loved how the light fell
on my skin, a scattering of rose
and blue on milk.

Sometimes he dressed me in a linen camisole
threaded with a scarlet ribbon, crushed
my auburn curls beneath a dark felt hat.

Once he buttoned me into a navy coat,
sculpted my breasts and waist with his hands.
I was a good object, because I knew

how a painter needs a model to absorb
the gaze with her presence.
I grew stronger as I hugged my muscles

to the bone, anchored myself in the pose,
captured his gestures in my mind’s camera,
forming a palette of my own.


About the Author

Ann Hostetler is the author of Empty Room with Light, and editor of A Cappella: Mennonite Voices in Poetry(Iowa, 2003). Her work has appeared in The American Scholar, Nimrod, Poet Lore, Valparaiso Poetry Review, Washington Square, among others. She edits the Journal of the Center for Mennonite Writing at and teaches at Goshen College in Goshen, Indiana.