To Maria Cayetana de Silva, the 13th Duchess of Alba

Your Grace,

I will require you to wear black which will move under my paint
because your enchantment is never still.
I ask that your red scarf drapes around your waist like a general
returning from war against an old enemy.
I will place you under a southern sky the blue of bird’s eggs
on common ground where hunters and thieves might stalk.
A path will wind between bushes lightly stroked as if in early mist.
You will stand not as a duchess but a dancer of the Tarantella
with the air itself parting in applause.

On your visit to my studio you said I reminded you of a cat
leaping across rooves between sleepers and their dreams,
slipping on starlight and using my brushes for balance.
Let me lift you above the crows and winged hauntings of your grief.
I will frame you for as long as watchers choose to wonder.
In return you will point to the earth under your gold silk shoes,
to one name,

Solo Goya.

Winner of the Ruskin Poetry Prize, 2017

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