Lost Portrait London 1940s
by Geoffrey Heptonstall
The table is covered with crisp linen on which are set well-chosen wines. Spills will occur, devilish as blood. Salt is an effective remedy in cold soaking before dawn. No-one sees the under world. Tired and hungry maids, no more than children, work by lamplight. It is dark and cool for the wines.
Upstairs in the evening the talk will be of art and intimacies overheard by an expressionless maid. Someone whispers in an unknown language. He jokes. There is laughter she cannot understand.
An eminent guest will arrive soon. He has arranged to be late. He will come begging the forgiveness granted him in advance. He knows what will be given him.
Guests assemble graciously. The ladies artfully adorn the scene, anticipating adoration.
So pleasant the conversation stilled only by the sight of beauty. She is positioned slightly to the right. This, of course, was before the war.
The details of her death are few. We know she was found in the ruins, her face torn by bomb blast. The silk gown revealed her. It was the one she wore for the portrait, once admired, long since vanished.
Writer of fiction (recently for Cerise Press, Gold Dust, Litro, Open Wide and Sunk Island Review). Essayist/reviewer (recently for the Bow Wow Shop, Cerise Press, Contemporary Review, Gold Dust, International Times, The London Magazine, New Walk Magazine, P.N. Review, Prole, The Recusant, The Tablet, the TLS and The Write Place at the Write Time) Extensive broadcasting experience, including critically-appraised features for BBC Radios 3 and 4, and, most recently, 105fm. Extensive lecturing and workshop experience for Anglia Ruskin Uni and Bath Spa Uni, Cambridge Festival, Cambridge Poetry Cafe, Long Road Sixth, the Open College and the WEA. I have performed in many venues, including a small tent at Glastonbury , but most regularly at Cambridge Poetry Café. Recent poetry for Caught in the Net, Connections, Inclement, Ink, Sweat and Tears, and The Write Place at the Write Time