Portrait on a Gallery Wall

I’m trying out a new way of presenting my poetry. I’ve added a short analysis. Let me know if you like the poem and the way I have presented it.

This poem is a snapshot of a woman who’s both a victim and a redeemer, in her own understated way.

I wrote this poem a few months ago. It describes a woman who has been shaped by her difficult past. She has been abandoned by her mother and bruised by her father’s abuse. Despite her fragility, she has found sanctuary in art and her paintbrush has become her only reliable friend.

Portrait on a Gallery Wall

She’s fragile -
dropped by her mum
hitting the concrete floor of her dad’s fist
she broke.

She’s guarded by a dream
a world of soft corners
white walls
and the thin dependability

of a paintbrush. 

She’ll dress in black
tie her hair

and watch
as you brush your regard past her
as if you were dusting

She’ll know those who fall in love
with her
they’ll return


She’s the gold vein
holding us together,

the better than broken truth
we all need
if ever we want to find a way
to step beyond her gaze. 

The poem explores the artist’s emotional armour; she remains elusive and indifferent to the fleeting attention she receives from others. There’s a detachment in the way she allows people to merely ‘brush’ past her. But there’s strength in her vulnerability. Those who do manage to fall in love with her come back ‘weaker’ but ‘open,’ as if she has the ability to bring out a tender, honest side in them.

The ‘gold vein,’ signifies her value and her role in uniting people. It also refers to the Japanese art of Kintsugi. I present her in the poem as a paradoxical figure – someone who is ‘better than broken,’ providing a standard of realness that challenges others to step beyond their preconceptions.

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