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Mona Lisa, A Study
Kai Coggin
Writer of the Month

Quintessential beauty,
you are the foreground
of a landscape that winds and blurs, 
a scene that escapes breath
lest the sun sets across your placid shoulder,
buttercream skin, 
ivory, porcelain, 
all the words that convey
this off-white perfection.

I become the winding road
that leads to the softness,
the winter haze of your bosom,
the northern cross of your plump hands
and rose-dipped fingers.

I become every inch of painted sky
that outlines the folds and flowing curls
of your red brown blanketed hair, 
the thin, almost invisible veil on your goddess head
that keeps me from folding into you with my mind. 

Oh, Mona Lisa.
Oh, Juliet of the paint,
unrequited muse of da Vinci desire,
what secrets are you holding
on the delicate half-smile, 
those borderline-sleep eyes, 
that towering straight nose, I suppose
I would only hope to touch your skin,
to unveil the mysteries of lust and sin
that clothe you so well in this seeming nonchalance, 
your brilliant dullness, 
your radiant silence, 
your demure wanting.

Oh, Mona Lisa, 
tell me your secrets.
You have a voice that needs no sound, 
a knowing that makes men fall to their knees, 
a face that is a mirror and the wide open sky, 
make me a pure clean canvas
that I might stand in front of your light, 
I will become the shadows,
the mask,
the depth of artistic portrayal,
blank as your mouth, 
as the vision of enduring passion,
this empty fullness,
those eyes that follow me
to the darkest of nights
and become
two piercing stars.

Kai Coggin is a poet, author, and teaching artist living on the side of a small mountain in Hot Springs National Park, AR. She holds a BA in Poetry and Creative Writing from Texas A&M University. Her work has been published or is forthcoming in Blue Heron Review, Lavender Review, Broad!, The Tattooed Buddha, Split This Rock, Yellow Chair Review, ANIMA, Elephant Journal, and many other literary journals, as well as anthologized in several international collections. Her first full-length collection PERISCOPE HEART (Swimming with Elephants Publications 2014) is available at

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