by Sarah Law
In Victorian family portraiture
Mother was often hidden
behind a thick black veil
in the photographic studio –
the infant in her lap still soothed
by her warmth, her scent,
by how this ostensibly empty
chair somehow held him steady.
Her own child had no doubts –
nor did the plate’s first viewers.
It’s only later we can see
how clearly she was always there –
this mother full of breath and grace,
keeping her promises.