Portrait of a Little Girl, Painted by Elizabeth Chant
On display at The Cameron Art Museum
The living mask hangs above her— scans the room with white eyes. It watches the girl like they watched you through tiny windows in your room at Rochester Hospital. While you paint this
girls portrait she fidgets and sighs as if the three hours she has spent still in her pose is anything compared to the three years you slammed your mind against those breathing blue walls. As you glance over your canvas and give color to the window beside her, Patricia cranes her neck to peer outside into the waning afternoon light. But you paint her face in a straight and forward gaze,
tighten the line of her jaw, sharpen her bangs at into the corner of her forehead— her fine
obedient hair. What does this girl really know about feeling stuck? About staring out windows in
an impotent slump? When you’re a prisoner, windows only taunt you. The scene you see is just
flat on the pane— the world outside is a magnet drawing on you, holding your body tight against
the cold glass. Pull at her from beneath the wooden planks of the floor in the wine house. Pull
with long straight strokes of blue paint through her dress. Stamp down her socks and shoes. Lock
her little knees in place. Pin her rail arms to her boney shoulders, a disgruntled paper doll. She’s really grown impatient now. But what does this girl know about being stuck? Tell her, Elizabeth.
Tell her it’s easy. Say go ahead child, there’s a jar of brushes on the table right beside you. All
you have to do is pick one up and paint yourself a way out.
Veronica Lupinacci grew up in Sarasota, Florida. She received her MFA in Creative Writing from the University of North Carolina Wilmington. She has taught writing at the university, high school, middle school, and elementary level. Her poems have recently appeared in The McNeese Review, Haiku Journal, The Pinch, Northwind, and Eunoia Review.
The Ekphrastic Review
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