Entry - MAG Poetry Prize 2009

Expressions on the Barmaid at The Folies-Bergere

by Mike Dennis

                  Whenever I look 
                  Upon this picture
                I find myself drawn 
                      To her face.   

                The young barmaid 
                  Seems vulnerable 
               And yet her innocence 
                      Is not intact  

                    At every glance
         I read her expression differently.
       It flickers from resigned indifference
                To distain and distaste   

                    On looking again 
            Her outlook has transformed 
     As she remembers an intimate sadness 
            Which haunts her daydreams  

          Where will the expression go next? 
     Occasionally I see the beginning of a smile 
          But more often she’s on the brink
                    Of a solitary tear.  

                 The scene is balanced
               By other engaging details
              Which distract my attention
                      From her gaze  

           The bowl of waxy clementines 
           The gaunt stranger at the bar
The distant audience, enthralled by the show
            And the content of her locket  

                     But it’s never long
                  Before I’m drawn back
                     To the expression 
                         On her face.  

Added: 27.04.2009