top of page


the madrigal, volume iii.v


by frances boyle

So intimate, to word-sketch a near-stranger’s
face, bold as laying
my palm
on her cheek. Awkward voyeur
I steal glances, look away.

This woman
of the charming mouth
—tiny straight teeth
incisors slightly irregular,
small gap between. Vertical
dimples, straight lips, severe
until a quirk at the corners breaks open
into smile ((double-bracketed)). Her chin
dips as she looks down
in her own work.

But are these the first things I notice? No—
blue twists in short hair, dark window-sash
glasses, strong angles of jaw, cheekbones’
high brush of colour. Nicely pointed nose
Forehead high and smooth until she turns,
light catching fine lines. Eyebrows lift
sometimes in arches.

The whites of her eyes
seem weepy
behind the glint off lenses

a child look
in her openness.

Frances Boyle is the author of two poetry books, most recently This White Nest, with a third collection, Openwork and Limestone, forthcoming in 2022. She has also written Seeking Shade, an award-winning short story collection and Tower, a novella. Frances is a Canadian author, living in Ottawa, whose writing has been selected for the Best Canadian Poetry series and appeared throughout North America and overseas. Recent and forthcoming publications include work in Blackbird, EX/POST Magazine, Bandit Fiction, The Maynard and Paris Lit Up. Visit, and follow @francesboyle19 on Twitter and Instagram.

bottom of page