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Judith Skillman
     after Lucian Freud

His grandson subdued, sitting for a portrait
on a hardwood chair. This could be any house—
the fireplace cold, the mantel dusty.
Light makes its rounds: morning, afternoon, evening.
Feet scuff oak floors, no one’s fastidious
about dirt—his grandfather saw to that.
A newspaper lies open, its pages
gawking about the war he’s escaped here
in Paddington. Never mind the punishing
sittings for Kitty and her dog, his mother’s
three hundred hours under scrutiny.
Were there forty children or fourteen?
Questions not asked on an analytic
sofa. Only supine figures. Big Sue’s
folded flesh mimics mountains. Belly
belly breast breast. Here the evacuee,
there the rat. Will he sleep in the stable
tonight? How noble are the horses,
who require no remonstrance to stand still.
He holds the halter with one hand
and the brush in the other, indifferent
to any lesson except linen stretched on a rack.


Portrait of Kitty
Lucien Freud 1949