A washerwoman sits for me today.
Accepting francs, she says she’s pleased to rest.
To answer why I paint her, I only say
the reddened arms she crosses at her breast
frame her face that’s washed in winter light.
The fichu round her neck is striped with blue
(from years of wear, that fabric’s nearly white).
She seems to know that she is fading, too.
But with her gray-green, deep-set eyes that gaze
with quiet equanimity, she’ll need
no painted flourish or sentimental praise
from me. This woman’s portrait may succeed
if viewers can perceive a will to live
yet resignation for what fate will give.
Barbara Lydecker Crane
Barbara Lydecker Crane, a finalist for the 2017 and the 2019 Rattle Poetry Prize, has won awards from the Maria Faust Sonnet Contest, the Helen Schaible Sonnet Contest, and others. She has published three chapbooks: Zero Gravitas (White Violet Press, 2012), Alphabetricks (Daffydowndilly Press, 2013), and BackWords Logic (Local Gems Press, 2017). Her poems have appeared in Ekphrastic Review, First Things, Light, Lighten-Up-Online, Measure, Rattle, Think, Writer’s Almanac, and several anthologies. She is also an artist.
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