It’s not much more than a study,
just shades of grey,
grey bonnet, grey blouse, black skirt.
She is older, almost featureless,
the merest suggestion of nose, mouth and eyes.
Her body bends to her work.
Her right arm, clasping the heavy iron,
is strangely elongated,
as if stretched through time and labour.
Yet compassion is so deftly captured
in brief strokes of fluid simplicity
I must stop, stare and in tender sorrow
think of the life of this anonymous woman
labouring through her monotonous hours
in tired, uncomplaining resignation.