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Every picture

Eyes that smile at their edges
observe her
as she moves around the room.
She feels his look on her,
tracking her,
yet she must know,
somewhere in herself,
that he cannot really see.

She touches objects,
a paperweight, a vase, a photo,
fingertips feel the cold smoothness,
as memories loiter.
A few flowers, a rose,
a gift to her,
a drop of blood welling from a pinprick.

The photo on the desk,
that trip,
the lake, a young man sitting on a rock
looking away,
ripples on the surface,
the breeze through the trees behind.
She shivers, her hand trembles.

The paperweight – glass,
some bright jewel in the centre.
She weighs it,
her tiredness pressing on her;
she recalls the letter it held in place,
the words he chose,
her disbelief.

She picks up the glass,
sips oak-aged wine,
a little bitter,
places it back on the desk,
notes the darkening street outside;
and catches her reflection,
trapped in the window frame.

She sees only her age,
circles shadowed under eyes too wide,
startled, like a bird,
caught in the moment,
but she cannot fly.

The light in the painting,
a shaft from the side,
across the cracked background,
the florid features of the face,
the crinkles of the eyes
in the dinginess of the dusty room,

this old man and his attentive gaze,
the great observer,
can he see her fear?
He is just as he saw himself that day.
Now her, hundreds of years later,
disturbed by his surveillance
and her sense of him.

She feels the scrutiny
as his eyes follow her around the room
and she turns away,
heart beating too hard,
sweat breaking,
making a dampness on her back.

Poem workshopped at PENfro Poets
First published in: Biggs J. The Spaces in Between. Pinewood Press. 2015.

Jackie Biggs’ first collection, The Spaces in Between, was published in September 2015 by Pinewood Press (Swansea). She has also had poetry published in many magazines and anthologies, both in print and online. She reads her work at spoken word events all over west Wales, where she lives. She is co-organiser of The Cellar Bards spoken word event in Cardigan, a former chair of PENfro Book Festival and a member of the Rockhoppers poetry performance group. She has been a member of PENfro Poets since its inception in 2012. Some of her poetry appears on her blog:

Twitter: @JackieNews