The Italian Girl by Matisse

Scraped into canvas as France bleeds
into Verdun field
The Italian girl’s becoming
immortalised in her pose
Controlled by the painter’s eye
Her mask never slips
A stiff willow brushed with ink-dark tress
The olive-stained canvas leans in, 
comforting her reticence
In hint of crossed hands-prayer
she stands half-starved of feeling
as tense as a violin chord
Coerced to a limit of painterly tension
He knows, He sees
She is his embodiment of elegy
When bodies were not allowed to speak
His brush a soft note of chaos, 
an unravelling

Clare Lavery is a writer & lecturer. Interested in Languages, Identity and issues of migration and displacement from the victim's perspective, she tweets at @clerotto