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unpublished poem, © Ella Duffy 2019, used by permission of the author.