I did not see her again for half a decade, and when I did I enjoyed the good fortune to live less than a mile from where she dwelt. For several years she was my secret pleasure. I passed by her daily and would often stop to visit. Countless hours were given to her, feeling her presence, letting myself melt into her. When the great hall she liked to hang around in was very quiet, I could smell the salt of her breath, hear her faint whispers and moans, and see her maker’s presence in her skin. As ends come, this one came abruptly, now twenty years gone since.
I saw her once more a little over a decade ago. It was a hurried, unsatisfying visit as time was short and another lover demanded my attention and led me by the hand away from her as I stole one more glance over my shoulder. I think about her now and then, what she meant to me, and the inspiration she gave. Sometimes I think, “I must see her one more time", but I never do. We both are not getting any younger.
Perhaps I will this June.
United States, 1836 - 1910
oil on canvas
28 1/2 x 48 3/8 inches
Portland Museum of Art, Bequest of Charles Shipman Payson, 1988.55.1