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Study of a Foot, Federico Barocci


It was almost like you didn’t know it,

as if I’d introduced you for the first time.


You looked down, curious, seeing

the way I have been taught to see.

I’m not surprised you didn’t recognise it

as part of you – the colours are at odds

with the rest of your limbs   ̶

a plump blue-veined Doric

marbled with the fine,

pale down of plucked birds,

finished by such a little foot.


No thing you’ve ever owned

can be described as that.

You lifted your skirt a little higher

and neither of us could see a point

at which your tones blended

to produce those tanned limbs poking out

of your  worsted work-day sleeves.


Your quick, callused hands

are too dry with work to siren

my chalks to speed

but your soft foot is pulpy

with warm blood

and quickens mine.


You are a master at this lesson;

that a little embarrassment

is a slight exchange

to see the unexpected.



© Jo Brandon

Picture 10500564, drawing in chalks by Federico Barocci (c.1526-1612), image copyright Mary Evans / Ashmolean Museum



Jo Brandon was born in Essex in 1986 and raised in rural Lincolnshire. She graduated with a degree in Creative Writing from Bretton Hall, University of Leeds, in 2007. Between 2008 and 2011 Jo was an editor of the literary e-zine Cadaverine, and her poetry has featured in various publications and anthologies including Poetry Review, Magma, Cake and Butcher’s Dog. Jo’s debut pamphlet, Phobia, was published by Valley Press in 2012. Her first full-length collection, The Learned Goose, followed in November 2015. She can be found online at