Thanks to Poetry Daily for this unsettling, gorgeous poem.
A Woman Without A Country
As dawn breaks he enters
A room with the odor of acid.
He lays the copper plate on the table.
And reaches for the shaft of the burin.
Dublin wakes to horses and rain.
Street hawkers call.
All the news is famine and famine.
The flat graver, the round graver,
The angle tint tool wait for him.
He bends to his work and begins.
He starts with the head, cutting in
To the line of the cheek, finding
The slope of the skull, incising
The shape of a face that becomes
A foundry of shadows, rendering —
With a deeper cut into copper —
The whole woman as a skeleton,
The rags of her skirt, her wrist
In a bony line forever
Her body from its native air until
She is ready for the page,
For the street vendor, for
A new inventory which now
To loss and to laissez-faire adds
The odor of acid and the little,
Pitiless tragedy of being imagined.
He puts his tools away,
One by one; lays them out carefully
On the deal table, his work done.
by Eavan Boland