Before the Portrait of Lucrezia Panciatichi
Lucrezia, grand on the drawing-room wall,
reflecting your green transparent eyes
I braid up bead-roped hair,
compose my brows into swans.
We smooth our pride’s four-hundred-year-old lace.
No painter can part these small tight lips.
Crimson shoulders bunched in satin sleeves,
we stiffen from the darkness’ warmth
and let long fingers barely touch
the dove-tailed arms of polished wood,
the lustrous, heavy folds.
A little red book in our lap deflects
light from the wedding band’s black stone.
Tiny gold letters circle our neck:
Amore—a word we no longer know.
This massive filigreed frame
transfixes our silence like pearls.
We look through illusion,
permit time’s brush its stroke
—our long fine nails rigid and sharp.
This poem was previously published in Susan Ioannou's collection, Clarity Between Clouds, Goose Lane Editions, 1991.
Canadian writer Susan Ioannou has published stories, literary essays, novels for young people, and several poetry collections. Her books of poems include Clarity Between Clouds(Goose Lane Editions), Where the Light Waists (Ekstasis Editions), Looking Through Stone: Poems about the Earth (Your Scrivener Press), Coming Home: An Old Love Story (Leaf Press), and Looking for Light (Hidden Brook Press). Her full Literary CV is online: www3.sympatico.ca/susanio/sioancv.html
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