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.
The literal translation of this poem was made by Ulrich Kratz
The final translated version of the poem is by Carole Satyamurti
© Poetry Translation Centre 2004-2014