Gail C. DiMaggio

Gail C. DiMaggio spent decades helping her husband, a jazz trombonist, pursue his music in a world where no artist ever gives up a day gig. Refusing to become discouraged, she writes about the life of an ordinary woman because for this she has all necessary credentials. And besides, as a friend recently told her, “What else have you got to do?” Her work has been published in a number of journals among them, Aries, Antiphon Cactus Heart, and Kestral.

 

Girls in Pictures

After John Singer Sargent’s The Daughters of Edward Darley Boit

Farthest away, hardest to see, Flora
is the one who grips me. Behind them he’s painted
a square of dark – the parlor? – and Flora’s the girl
turning into the black, leaning

against a tall vase, arms limp, eyes
turned from her sisters,
from the handsome artist,
from her vigilant mother who stands by the man,

whispering. High on the dark wall,
he has sketched a flake white rectangle. It
suggests a mirrored window. I used to try
to capture my daughter,

Lisa, in photographs. In this one,
you might see a girl, laughing
instead of the girl who’s done
with testifying to our happiness, the girl

who spun to face me, arms out,
shouting, Is this what you want? Is it?
I thought it was. What I wanted.
Flora wears a pinafore, but her mother

must be readying her for grown up things –
they’ve let down her skirts. Put up her hair.
To celebrate menarche, I had Lisa’s ears
pierced, bought gold to gleam in her dark curls. She

hated them – hated the struggle
to find the slot, force the post
through. Zinc-white gleams in Flora’s pinafore,
but her hands are a black smudge, her cheek

a dark suggestion, and her mother
goes on dreaming lanterns in a ball room,
a man in black to take the fragile hand. A painter
composes the color black from undertones –

forest green, blood red and slate. I imagine Flora in love
with the shades that coil and whisper
inside this black. In a second photograph,
sunset gilds my daughter’s face. She

is watching horses. Tall and dusty, passing,
returning. The stallion’s haunch, the mares’ curving necks
and their slender, knobbed legs. They stamp and paw –
a drumbeat to make the ground shiver.

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