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William Logan

BPR 51 | 2024

Portrait, Female, 1850s

Fierce might be the word,
that look of a woman approaching
midlife, perhaps with the hint

of gray hair the hand did not
faithfully portray, eyes staring
with impatience at something

disagreeable, knowing that even
half an hour waiting for the artist
to finish was half an hour lost

as he ruffled and furled the collar,
heightened with china white,
barely fingering on a touch of pink

to the cheeks, as if the powdered tint,
too, felt the woman’s desperation
to get on with things—and yet caught

the tense calm of someone
who had received all she deserved,
now in her mid-thirties facing,

in that Haworth parsonage,
what must have been long
known but unacknowledged,

the ghosts of pasts foregone, pasts
the more wretched for having never
been born. So Charlotte Brontë,

that afternoon in London
one dense June, by George Richmond,
society artiste, in the finest chalk.