The National Poetry Review

Adam Tavel

ON AN UNFINISHED PORTRAIT OF THOMAS HARDY
             1906

What little hair remains above his ears
is wispy as the fur a valley mouse
leaves humped upon his heath to tell the wind
he starved. Late May. This London studio
soaks Hardy’s throated collar, buttoned tight
beneath his chin. Thin-barber stripes of slate
encircling his tie make mockery
of hue, like slatted navy shutters baked
charmless on a vacant seaside cottage.
Blanche daubs the poet’s eyes as opals wreathed
in pink, weary and forlorn. Downcast, they stare
against the corner. And all the rest is brown
as Wessex mud. The whole—an hour’s rush—
omits the hands. We watch the suit dissolve.


ADAM TAVEL’s third poetry collection, Catafalque, won the Richard Wilbur Award (University of Evansville Press, 2018). You can find him online at http://adamtavel.com.

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