Spring 2020, Volume 28

Poetry by Jo Ann Baldinger

Portrait of My Aunt in an Embroidered Blouse

I think the painter must have been in love with her
to work so tenderly the rick-rack trim
and fleurs-de-lys embroidery,
to mass and mound the shining curls. 

For my visit they have dressed her in a cotton gown
from which her collarbones protrude,
proclaiming their dominion. Her hands lie clawed
and empty on her lap, fingers that had been so deft
I couldn’t track the dance of thread and shuttle
when she tried to teach me how to tat.

She hasn’t spoken in a year.
Only the eyes move,
something there that will not quit. 
I like to think she knows me.
She gives no sign of knowing me.  

The portrait hangs on the wall behind her chair
like a window flung open onto blue sky,
a line of trees in full summer leaf,
a vivid girl with cherry lips
in some synchronous universe.




BIO: Jo Ann Baldinger writes poems and teaches yoga in Portland, Oregon. Her work has appeared in Stirring, The 2River View, Stickman Review, Verdad, Twyckenham Notes, White Whale, Monarch Review, and Cirque, among others.