At the foot of the bed you die in,

the portrait of you at twenty-five

mirrors your body, fifty years on,

a fifth of the size I remember.


It’s as if muscle and bone

have been sketched with chalk,

charcoal for the back your hand

where the needle draws blood.


You crack up when I tell you

that it all feels a bit Dorian Grey,

and I half expect the painting

to join in with a smile in acrylic.


Afterwards I wonder how, days before

death, you came to look more like

the first draft than the last.

unpublished poem, © Ella Duffy 2019, used by permission of the author.

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