Published on Academy of American Poets (

In Portraits in Seasons

As a feral thing would. As a dead leaf
whose crunch she herself hears, whose

buggy interior floods the sidewalk. Beamy
the world, yet a blank all the same.

Where you’ve tucked your pen into your notes,
I tuck my fingernail, burned and cursed and

shut tight my eyes. I tuck my feet up like a girl.
In this corner, warm milk fall of light something

far from revealing its bone-blank eyes, that is,
the eyes downcast in every portrait, shaded

the ribbon a bright blue furl across the gaze,
the peculiar mother, her arm around a naked toddler

the fall of light. Betrays nothing. The book in
hand, betrays. As a feral thing would,

I shred its binding and burn through it for warmth.


Copyright © 2013 by Danielle Pafunda. Used with permission of the author. This poem appeared in Poem-A-Day on May 23, 2013. Browse the Poem-A-Day archive.

About this Poem

"Robert Browning's 'Wanting is—What?' came to me courtesy of Poem-A-Day with its line Beamy / the world, yet a blank all the same, its impossible completions, the gaze, beams that shine & eyes that beam, frames and lenses. Mary Cassatt's The Caress also makes an appearance here. I thought about that never-attainable completion gestured to by objects and postures in the frame, and also how vexed & wonderful to be a woman artist who deeply loves the art that came before.”
—Danielle Pafunda


Danielle Pafunda

Danielle Pafunda is author of The Dead Girls Speak in Unison (Bloof Books, 2016). She teaches at the University of Wyoming, Laramie.

Date Published: 2013-05-23

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