–Jane on a Book

There she is, Jane in the one picture of her claimed
as both recognizable and authentic. She has the shape
of a face you start with for a drawing assignment,
a perfect egg but wider in the middle.

Odd that’s she printed on the dust jacket in orange ink. Speckles
of orange as if the editors thought that since she died young
she needs all this grain, this suggestion of rash, of illness
that has fired her face and then gotten loose to sprinkle her cap.

Even her curls are orange. And how very distinct they are. Proper.
How perfectly turned but not quite symmetrical, set off a bit
to one side with the skewing bent, no doubt, of genius. Big ovals
of eyes like a Megan I know, whom Jane never knew and never
could know since Megan is eight this very minute, and Jane has
taken a powder from life, has left just her words, her signature
unsmudged in the history of words.

But look. She has given the game away. Isn’t it like her to be spying
what’s going on, stage left, when she’s having her picture done?
And the reproving air. A character’s coming into a story and none
of us will like her much since Jane doesn’t.

Such a frown. She needs someone to say, “Aunt Jane,” someone
like Megan to creep up and tickle her, to make her mind stop its
probing so she can laugh. Yes, clearly a spy, caught out in that stare
—the writer who, like all writers, copies things down with her eyes
                                                                                              and then tells.


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