Honore Daumier: The Laundress, 1863

Girl and Goat 2

By Gerald Locklin

The muscular and bent
Laundress and child,
Having achieved with their burdens
The top step of the stairway from
The bankside of the Seine,
Provide the naturalistic dark side
Of economic servitude
Prefatory to the gaiety of the Moulin Rouge,
And its raising of the skirts
Of Jane Avril and La Goulue,
And of the less storied Cancan Dancers
Of the posters of Toulouse-Lautrec,
Splitting naughtily their alabaster thighs
In hopes fairy-tale dukes and princes
Would empty their purses
Of a king’s ransom of pleasure,
To bury their faces in womblike obliteration
Of any and all intimations
Of obese laundresses and their fatty offspring.

In a yet later time and place,
Poets and pleasure seekers
Came to The Cabaret.

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