[from Betty Adcock's The Difficult Wheel, 1995]
The Woman Hidden in This Painting
Like a renegade summer she begins
to burn outside defining lines
almost as if a child’s hand traced
and lost her.
Window, leaf, bird, the stony hill
absorb her until the body’s only
a put-off dress, a color vanishing
so slowly the watcher in his trance
misses it entirely.
Now a lifting as if her arms are lifting,
a soaring sheer
stretch—and her skin is air.
Or say a string of beads has scattered
and the whole light gathers them
invisible in bright haze
as the pear that might have rested
where morning struck such shine from the table.
One rose gray feather on the sill
implies the silk-on-silk of dove call
she might hear. Just there,
the open curtain would brush her fingers
and the plain white cup obscure
her wrist unbraceleted.
One line might draw her back, a traveler again
in flesh upon a track of bone,
to cast against the sun-drenched wall
a shadow, dark heel knit to her heel,
time plangent in the bell-bright blue
shawl on her shoulder. See
how she was and will be here,
a dream staining the light the painter
Beyond, beyond the half-open curtain,
the apron of grass is, and ribboning
paths hemstitched with chicory.
Farther still (O the eye is endless)
dark trees feather a restless sky.
She will return in this, a mist
at her throat, her arms reddened
with horizon. The gray of the hare’s flank
is the gray her eyes give back.
And pale. The face when we have seen it
will be pale beneath the glow
the wind’s pearls told her.
Presence, she whispers,
chink of weather in the window.