The Policeman’s Daughter – After Paula Rego

Ekphrastic Poetry

There she sits in her white dress,
all Goody-Two-Shoes, eyes downcast,
the little Miss Prim.

But she doesn’t fool me
with all that elbow grease furiously
polishing his black boots at the kitchen table.

Look how her bare arm, fat as a ham,
disappears right down to the heel.
She’d have him believe she was a real

Daddy’s girl. Twists him round her little
finger. But the set of her mouth, I know that.
The I-dare-you-to-tell clench of her jaw.

When she pinches me under the gingham
cloth, sticks pin through the wings
of blue bottles she catches

In a sugar jar on the ledge of our attic
window, then, as they squirm, fixes them
to her dress, two shimmering brooches.

I’ve seen that flicker of a smile,
curled at the corner of her lips,
Spread across her mouth like a kiss.

Paula Rego, The Policeman’s Daughter, 1987

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