Self-Portrait with Head and Hands

Robin Silbergleid

She paints herself
painting in an empty room
wheelchair still
on the scratched wood floor.
(She can’t remember
the last time she moved.)

When she paints the doctor
he does not meet her gaze.
When they talk, his brows furrow
into a dark sentence.
He does not apologize.
He crowds the canvas.
She holds her palette like
her heart cut from her chest—
it is bigger than a dinner plate and when
she dips her brushes in, they bleed
onto her smock, like the first drops
on her underthings each month.
Her skirt, black as a habit, keeps
her secrets. Where else
could they go but here?