Lost Drawing

Ruth Fainlight

Bare winter trees in silhouette
against a clear cold turquoise sky
just after sunset: during the war,
at my aunt’s house in Virginia, I tried
to draw them – trees like these in England
which she never saw – and now,
trees in my garden make me feel
the first true pang of grief since her death.

Between the wash-tubs and storecupboards filled
with pickled peaches and grape-jam, crouched
into a broken wicker chair,
I peered up through the basement window.
Sketchpad on my lap, with brushes and
bottles of black ink, blue ink, and water,
I wanted to convey the thickness
of their trunks, the mystery
of how a branch puts out a hundred
twigs, the depth and power of evening.

I heard her cross the porch, the kitchen
floorboards creak. As it grew darker,
that halo of light, outlining
all the finest intersections,
faded. Night absorbed the trees
the house the woman and the girl
into itself, kept every aspect
of that time alive, to give
me back today the memory
of my dead aunt and my lost drawing.