Kennedy’s “Nude Descending a Staircase” is also deceptively simple, even when the reader is aware of the fact that the poem is a description of the painting of like name:
A gold of lemon, root and rind,
she sifts in sunlight down the stairs
With nothing on. Nor on her mind
We spy beneath the banister
A constant thresh of thigh on thigh–
Her lips imprint the singing air
That parts to let her parts go by.
One-woman waterfall, she wears
her slow descent like a long cape
And pausing, on the final stair
Collects her motions into shape.
Like Dickinson’s poetry, Kennedy’s work employs a particular meter and rhyme sequence which pulls the reader through the work. Kennedy also, like Dickinson employs a highly visual description to the work, with “punch lines” of ironic language at the termination of each stanza which draw allusion to the humor of “I heard a Fly buzz–when I died–,” and “Death is a Dialogue.”