Saturday, 1 November 2014

Every picture

 Occasionally I write a poem that comes almost entirely from imagination, a poem that makes a story. The inspiration for this one came while I was reading Donna Tartt's fabulous novel, The Goldfinch. The connections may not be too obvious, but that is where it began.
I have found through sharing this poem with others that people either like it a lot, or don't like it at all.
See what you think. Comments are welcome below.

Every Picture


Eyes that smile at their edges
observe her
as she moves around the room.
She feels his look on her,
tracking her,
yet she must know,
somewhere in herself,
that he cannot really see.

She touches objects,
a paperweight, a vase, a photo,
fingertips feeling the cold smoothness,
as memories float.
A few flowers, a rose,
a gift to her,
a drop of blood welling from a pinprick.

The photo on the desk,
that trip,
the lake, a young man sitting on a rock,
looking away,
ripples on the surface,
the breeze through the trees behind.
She shivers, her hand trembles.

The paperweight – glass,
some bright jewel in the centre.
She weighs it,
her tiredness pressing on her;
she recalls the letter it held in place,
the words he chose,
her disbelief.

She picks up the glass,
sips oak-aged wine,
a little bitter,
places it back on the desk,
notes the darkening street outside;
and catches her reflection,
trapped in the window frame.

She sees only her age,
dark circles under eyes too wide,
too large;
startled, like a bird,
caught in the moment,
but she cannot fly,
or even cry.

The light in the painting,
a shaft from the side,
across the cracked background,
the florid features of the face,
the crinkles of the eyes
in the dinginess of the dusty room,
the brightest thing there.

This old man and his attentive gaze,
the great observer,
can he see her fear,
heart beating too hard,
sweat breaking,
dampness on her back,
the goosebumps?

She feels the scrutiny and turns away.
Can he see her invisible self?
He is just as he saw himself that day.
Now her,
hundreds of years later,
disturbed by his surveillance
and her sense of him.