Mother’s Palette Knife
by Nancy Bailey Miller

She studied every face—not one was spared.
Her portraits–oil, acrylic, pencil–show
it was for surfaces she deeply cared.

Her daughters’ portraits on the mantel paired
like candlesticks; they did not flatter. Though
she studied every face–not one was spared

her palette knife. A jaw too long, and bared
teeth spaced, a superficial smile of woe–
it was for surfaces she deeply cared.

One image was my own. I never dared
reveal my deeper imperfections. No,
she noticed every blemish, not one spared.

The glamour of her yacht club friends she shared
in portraits matching room decor; they’d go
on surfaces. Like painting, how she cared

for decorating! Rugs and drapes all dared
a boldness that her children did not know.
She studied every facet–not one spared;
it was for surfaces she deeply cared.

Previously published in Risking Rallentando Fermata Books 2008

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