A Woman's Portrait 1938

by Toeti Heraty

The painting conveys her exquisite taste:
ear studs, bracelets, green and yellow selendang;
the sash conceals her pregnancy.

The death she is carrying can’t be disguised.
The life she carries will grasp and cling on.
Yearning, restlessness and the turmoil of fear
are not recorded in the brush-strokes,
pencil outline of a face
surrendering to the flow of history.

The painting, with its final brilliant gesture,
only fully reveals this face
when it is framed by memory.

July 1989

The literal translation of this poem was made by Ulrich Kratz

The final translated version of the poem is by Carole Satyamurti


  1. July 30th, 2011 at 4:34 pm

    azhar says:

    first i see , then i can give any speach about it.

  2. March 30th, 2011 at 12:38 am

    frances hoeffel says:

    We used your poem as an inspiration to write in a Older Writer's class in San Francisco yesterday. Wonderful

  3. March 30th, 2010 at 12:25 pm

    Ruth Ferez says:

    I love it, and very enlightening.