Hilda Carline: Self-Portrait (1923)

Hilda Carline image

After a solo smoke, your instincts feel
a cigarette lighter and match for anyone —
even perhaps yourself.
Before the mathematical anthem of your image in the mirror
you pose yourself smouldering
as primary theme and conundrum.
What is a portrait?
It is a feeling through fire
beyond all skin’s extinguishable borders
It is the fit of a formal physical likeness
with hard-won, ungainly insight,
like the dot of a glint you dab
painstakingly into the white of one fixed eye with your brush.
This candid-exorbitant star
blazing against all female modelled shadow
is fiercer than “colour” —
than “décor” — than “form” —
than “painting” —
and is so much more fierce
than that little blunt shock-noun the trite mouths blurt:

“art” —