Silhouette Portrait Miniature c1790


Cheeks pink from skipping, a girl, teeth

missing, grins at her name. She swings

her legs, asks the candle, will it tickle?

She stifles a giggle as her aunt’s nimble

quill catches the shadow of her likeness,

doll’s leg in loose fingers.

But now the silhouette’s a shroud, details

obsolete like an old coin rubbed clean.

Gold-enclosed, nose backwards-pointed:

this stencil could be any preserved girl

hung in a dustless manor house museum.

A date and shape, no name.

[Sarah Spence]

Image: Frederick Cooper by Sir Nathaniel Dance-Holland

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