Hidden Mother

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.