Trompe-l’œil: An Ekphrasis of Hippolyte Flandrin’s The Young Greek Girl

she’s minding her own business
lost in thought as she heaves a sigh

a sigh that breathes through the paint
and slowly fogs up the glass

i like to think she does it on purpose
that she’s tired of being looked at

she’s being seen and she knows it
with a smart grin behind the canvas


looking for an excuse to gaze away
not even above me

like the busts of forgotten emperors
that neatly line vatican shelves

such modesty

she deserves better than them
i like to think she knows it

she reminds me of mrs woolf
not that i knew her of course

i know her just as well

she’s as pensive as mrs woolf
a similar nose even while lost in thought

perusing the values of life and art
believing hers unequal to my own

i like to think that she believes
i’ve nothing to contribute to her meditation


thinking that there’s no point
in acknowledging my interrupted presence

she’s disinterested in the cassat
and degas, and monet’s little technicolour

haystacks that decorate her living room
i like to think she chose them herself

to impress such guests as myself
who has sought audience with

her confident grace and contemplative
sensibilities i wish i could possess

i wish i had her neck of parian marble
like a petal of a christmas lily

her shoulder draped with chiffon sleeves
like parrhasius’ grand curtain

the small gold earring
like one of zeuxis’ grapes

i like to think

do you mind?

she whispers from the other side
of the glass like an emerald apple

floating between us breathing
ceci n’est pas une femme

this is not a woman

About the author
Charles Broughton is currently a Master's student of English Literature at Victoria University of Wellington. His creative work explores art, myth, and femininity.