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Body Language

By Stephen Kingsnorth

Reflecting on Painting: The Woman Taken in Adultery

Why does he lower face,

join the woman in down-cast eyes,

when the other men point with their

calculating, tricky, digit stares?

They unbent, he questions, bends again.

Why does he lower frame,

join the woman's down-cast norm,

when the other men stand so firm,

bold, strong, cloaked forms?

Is it to give them time to think,

enable them not to lose face,

enable them to lower theirs,

melt, slide, slink away,

before he, with her, stands again?

They are gone,

but he, straightened, there,

with scribbled, scratched and scrawled sand

about his feet, around the ground.

How interesting that the censor's pen

excised the story, printer's trim.

Calculating, tricky, digit stares of

bold, strong, cloaked norms

cannot stand sand scribbling.

Crouching woman, better bowed, cowed -

the body language speaks too loud.

First published by Amethyst Review


Stephen Kingsnorth (Cambridge M.A., English & Religious Studies), retired to Wales from ministry in the Methodist Church due to Parkinson’s Disease, has had pieces published by on-line poetry sites, printed journals and anthologies. More of his work can be found at


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