Behind the Canvas
(Picasso 1904)

Catriona Yule


These grey angular lines,
elbow chiselled to the core.
Who looks after these
calloused hands,
anoints the cracks?

Watch her face darken
as she strains across my gaze.
Each crease is hers to bare.
And on she grafts,
each breath of the iron

bearing her down
with the weight of
centuries on her back.
Is it the fate of woman
to never become woman?

Watch as the light flickers
on and off in those grey eyes;
how she steels herself in
the late hours, her dignity
tight in her fist.

And if a splash of water
should moisten her cheek,
roll beneath her chin,
to cling there
like an undiscovered pearl,

I would not tell a soul.


Published in Shedding Skin, 2007
(Koo Press)

Shedding Skin

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