Self-Portrait With Skull
Could have been carved from the chalk downs:
long scarp to the muzzle, yellow-white,
flint-blue, plus rust and mud. Among harebells, gorse
ploughed fields, a skim of umber,
bone wearing through. I can’t
do landscape any more. One of the children
found it, up on the Ridgeway; and I thought
memento mori, The Ambassadors. Arrogance!
Brittle, pared away, and the window-light
colours it earthwards. Imagine it galloping
against the skyline. Grins now. Such confidence.
For centuries. I was a painter, once.
I sit for myself. Empty-handed. Cobalt dress.
Ruth Valentine lives in Tottenham, England. Her latest publications are Downpour (Smokestack Books 2015), Rubaiyat for the Martyrs of Two Wars (Hercules Editions 2017) and A Grenfell Alphabet (self-published in aid of the Grenfell Tower fund). She's also published a novel, The Jeweller's Skin (Cybermouse Multimedia 2013) and various works of non-fiction. Ruth is an activist on migration and refugee issues, and works as a funeral celebrant.
Juliet Wood was born in 1939, grew up in London and trained at St Alban’s School of Art and The Slade School of Fine Art. Her long painting life has covered a nation-wide portrait practice, extensive teaching and exhibitions in London and the south of England, including a major retrospective with new work at the Bankside Gallery, London 2019. Juliet Wood’s paintings and oil pastels are inspired by the realities of contemporary life, human interaction and the poignancy of what is so often seen yet unspoken. She lives with her husband, the wood engraver Simon Brett, in Wiltshire and has three sons and two daughters.
The Ekphrastic Review
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