A Portrait

A solemn plain-faced child stands gazing there,
Her small hand resting on a purple chair.
Her stone-grey waisted gown is looped with black;
Linked chain and star encircle a slender neck;
Knots of bright red deck wrist, breast, flaxen hair;
Shoulder to waist falls band of lettered gold:
Round-eyed, she watches me—this eight-year-old,
The ghost of her father in her placid stare.

Darkness beyond. A moment she and I
Engage in some abstruse small colloquy—
On time, art, beauty, life, mortality!
But of one secret not a hint creeps out—
What grave Velasquez talked to her about;
And from that shadow not a clapper cries
Where now the fowler weaves his subtleties.
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