Woman with a Pearl Necklace
The woman in the painting is only a girl, like I was a girl, with pearls, like I had pearls, and she is captured by me watching, not looking, either of us, at the red ribbon in her hair, not at the ermine cuffs of her finery, its shine of some silk, all in the light that defines the pearls and the daring youth of her, like the walls of the room, light that holds her in, makes demands on her skin, in the golded air of the room that holds her still, the way girls hold still the first time they see light shifting in a day beyond an open window, not the black jar on the table, not the sheer drape, not for years to come the small mirror hanging there, not the pearls, but the passing light, the light that makes us care, and made the painter fussy, the light fading.
Joanna Rose is the author of the award-winning novel Little Miss Strange (Algonquin Books). Other work has appeared in ZYZZYVA, Windfall Journal, Cloudbank, Artisan Journal, Northern Lights, Oregon Humanities, High Desert Journal, VoiceCatcher, and Bellingham Review. Her essay "That Thing With Feathers" was honoured as Notable in 2015 Best American Essays. She works with youth in Portland Public Schools.
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The Ekphrastic Review