Sylee Gore

Even My Portraitist

As the hand, expert with gloss and gleam, extends
a mirror forward, painterly lights amass
in that curved glass. Whimsy-blushed clouds upend
the apricot river where brown leaves pass.

Unlike clouds, my face is never mirrored.
I duck and yield beneath the stabbing brush
until my features have been charactered
to dark skin, dark eyes—particulars crushed

to portrait. I swat back the paint-hoared tip.
Is this a need to know or seal or bare?
A shadowless pink hydrangea stains my lip.
Like clouds, I take my colour from the air.

What mirrors me? Now modern times become antique
as lace, as my old face becomes that leaf I seek.

Sylee Gore received the Queen Mary Wasafiri New Writing Prize in fiction and the Lord Alfred Douglas Prize. Her work is exhibited at the Alison Richard Building in Cambridge in spring 2024.

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