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Remember
By
Eavan Boland
(born in Dublin,1944)

I remember the way the big windows washed
Out the room and the winter darks tinted
It and how, in the brute quiet and aftermath,
An eyebrow waited helplessly to be composed

From the palate with its scarabs of oil
Colours gleaming through a dusk leaking from
The iron railings and the ruined evenings of
Bombed-out, post-war London; how the easel was

Mulberry wood and, porcupining in a jar
The spines of my mother's portrait brushes
Spiked from the dirty turpentine and the face
On the canvas was the scattered fractions

Of the face which had come up the stairs
That morning and had taken up position in
The big drawing-room and had been still
And was now gone; and I remember, I remember

I was the interloper who knows both love and fear,
Who comes near and draws back, who feels nothing
Beyond the need to touch, to handle, to dismantle it,
The mystery; and how in the morning when I came down --

A nine-year-old in high fawn socks --
The room had been shocked into a glacier
Of cotton sheets thrown over the almond
And vanilla silk of the French Empire chairs.

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tinted - gave soft color to

brute - cruel, mean, like an unthinking animal

aftermath - something that happens after something else -- usually something bad

composed - created; drawn

palate - the board a painter mixes paints on

scarabs -- beetles, bugs or jewelry made in the shape of beetles

dusk - the time just before dark

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leaking - when water or another liquid comes out slowly, as a leaking hose or faucet

porcupining - looking like a porcupine or small mammal with sharp spines

easel - the frame an artist rests a painting on

spines - sharp quills like those of the porcupine

portrait - a painting of a person

spiked - stuck up; went up

turpentine - liquid used to clean up oil paint

scattered - separated or put apart in many directions

fractions - parts or pieces

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taken up position - stood, as a soldier might

drawing-room - living room

back to stanza 4

interloper - an unwelcome person

dismantle - take apart

back to stanza 5

fawn - a pale, yellowish brown or a baby deer

glacier - very, very large mass of ice

French Empire - a style of chair (See this style in the Red Room of the White House)

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A sample WebText designed by Mary Lou McCloskey
Back to Mary Lou McCloskey's Resource Pages
Large Text version for projection