Love to You and Father Always,

Sharon Doyle

Dear, dear Mother,

I’m sitting still, as always, on
this oak burnt-umber bench.
A young man reads me sonnets, and
the lyre-with-song
also helps to pass time,
though they make it hard to concentrate now
as I write your fortnightly letter.
Still, it all relaxes, helps me
sit still.
And yet I cannot breathe too deeply
or my dress moves out of shape –
the bodice stretches and shadows change –
and not only that but
with all the washings
the color’s begun to fade.
He may even have to lighten his palette.
And it’s not easy either, Mother,
to coax out the same size curls
to dangle at my dimples – who
remembers exactly how they were in the very beginning?
Do you realize that now
it’s going on six years?
I grow weary,
and I grow plumper.
But Leonardo never says a thing.
I moisten my lips as soon as
his brush gets back to work
because these candles burn so hot
and you know how my lips chap.
If he does not hurry
all my tresses will turn to grey!
What is he thinking?
Yes, I know Mother,
I should be flattered –
he is so very famous, and dear
Francesco is so excited
for his own wife’s portrait
to hang in the hall,
but my fingers itch to do something,
anything – a tapestry,
a pot pie, a poem.
Perhaps the dramatic monologue
of a rich Italian merchant
who waits for a silly portrait
which surely never will be done in this lifetime!

Sharon Doyle is retired from teaching literature and writing, grades kindergarten through graduate school. She has published work in Cimarron Review, CutBank, The Midwest Quarterly, The Montserrat Review, Nimrod, and other journals.