Portrait of a Woman

Woman drawing on easel
Woman drawing on easel
Woman drawing on easel
Begin with a first, tentative line
searching for something: the sense
of a limb, the feel of flesh
beneath the paper.It is late on a summer’s evening
in an upstairs room, a single lamp
softens the shadows. Here is silence
and the slow, sound of quiet breath. Sometimes
a few words stumble out, somehow
deepening the silence, until you drift
off into the sight of starlings
wheeling in a great cloud over the river.Begin again: another outline
and another. There is the urge to move,
to get up and stretch; resist it. Instead
begin to fill in the areas between,
gradually bringing her into being. The lines
are tangled now; nothing is clear, there are
so many layers; through them a face, hands, a shoulder
come into view and then disappear. Gradually
in the confusion of lines, you begin to see her.

Anne Humphreys