Child in a white dress –
layer of lace makes a film
over an opaque gown that grazes his ankles.
Fine blonde hair, pink lips and cheeks.
Eyes surprise with their direct gaze.
Chubby hands and arms make rings at wrists.
Innocence set by the painter
before an ominous world.
Trees cast shadows.
A patch of pinkish light breaks the roiling gray sky.
The silent landscape threatens.
The child’s left hand grips the end of a string.
On the right hand, perched on the index finger,
is a bird –
wings spread, poised for flight,
head turned to regard
Francis O. Watts,
Posed together, child and bird
poise for flight.
With one foot tied to the other end of the string
held by this boy —
the bird is captive, yet intending to fly
its moment of dilemma captured for perpetuity by
the artist, who painted in silence,
the distraction of sound
failing to impede his
capture of a soul.