An anonymous angel,
she hangs in a corner
obscure in this famous collection.
No tourists crowd around her.
Enveloped in a cloud
soft feathers tease her cheek
she doesn’t have even a mythical name.
Just “Winged Figure”
I don’t know the artist
so I think about the model
as she sits, still for hours
Her face composed,
As the artist uses her face to compose
his anonymized ideal of Angel.
But she is flesh and blood, thinking, perhaps
About her child, or her lover
Or the fee from this pose
That will pay her rent
In exchange for her reputation
And nameless immortality on a museum wall

Inspired by Winged Figure (1889) by Abbot Handerson Thayer, American Wing, Art Institute of Chicago. In response to the dverse Tuesday Poetics prompt on portraits

8 thoughts on “Immortal

    • Thank you! I’ve always been fascinated by this painting; I don’t even know why the Art Institute feels it’s important enough to hang next to the Homers and the Sargeants. And I always feel kind of bad for her, since she’s stuck in a corner, and no one ever visits her but me!

  1. Ekphrastic poetry is so much fun – easier to imagine someone’s life than to intrude upon the privacy of a real person. Much as I love words they can be agonizingly definitive. But here you used them to delve beneath the painters sentimentality and honor the reality of what it means to be a complex person. Really nice poem . I like it very much.Oh, and many thanks for linking to the picture!

    • Thank you! I don’t know why this painting always draws me. It’s really a rather pedantic painting, despite its skill. I’m glad you’re okay with the link; I don’t like have graphics here, as I want the words to be centered.

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