Barbara Lydecker Crane – Mother And Child

Barbara Lydecker Crane

Portrait painting, so long out of fashion,
was all I did. Not by commission—I’d ask
a friend whose face was lined by life and passion
to sit. Then I’d distort a bit: a mask
would simplify and heighten their emotion.
This Harlem neighbor’s eyes are spelling fear
as she holds her baby tightly with devotion
and protection from who could appear
through that open door. I told my story,
how my husband stole our second daughter
and fled the country. I told my friend the gory
gist of losing our firstborn. I caught her
terror as she sat, and watched it spread
into her baby’s eyes, as fixed as dead.

Mother and Child, Alice Neel, ca. 1981, Oil on canvas