I’ve seen it – I shamefully catch glimpses
Before you turn. The head, hung; and the fringe
Concealing lost eyes. Oh, that I have seen it.
You haunt the room like a portrait. The colours
In unsteady strokes, give the candle to your face
An uncanny effect. At times I fear to broach it,
That matter of the mind. It is the brooding
Unpainted black of the unobserved background,
While you pose unwilling in the midst of it.
It makes a still life of you – of us all.
Even the flowers in their vase hold still.
Even your hand, and your graceful demeanour
And the perfection of everything: these are lines
Painted in. The face does not change for me.
See how a gilt frame is a remarkable cage.
How to draw life, then – how instead, to trace
Your true vertices; bring tones to that lost face,
Or through soft strokes, that palour to assuage;
And if for a second, I can draw a smile
Onto your picture, however strange or slight,
For me that is the finest work of art.