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Tributes & MessagesLinda France

LAST PORTRAIT

Slightly to the left, you are sitting
in my best chair, an amazing blaze

of red velvet; its delicious sheen
picking up the crimson on your cheeks,

your laughing lips. You’d thought
long and hard about the hat, settled

in the end on the one from Mongolia
with its silver steeple and stately black.

Velvet again; so much of you smooth
and inviting, reckless and glorious.

We joke everyone will want to stroke you,
steal some of your magic. Meanwhile,

there are feathers – ostrich and peacock –
and you want to know how to sit

like Grace Paley or Mary Seacole,
feet firmly planted, plenty of space

and rich soil. Your eyes are dancing;
two moons dreaming of a bigger world

for our children, more trees hung with shoes.
See, Julia, see how you’ve managed it:

by telling the truth you cast a spell
and all the edges disappeared,

leaving no trace, no trace of a frame.

Linda France

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