Jennifer Finstrom


Portrait of a Young Lady

“Say we never get to see it: bright
future, stuck like a bum star, never
coming close, never dazzling.”
– Ada Limón, “The Conditional”

You’re having a drink with a friend
and while she has a clear end goal
for her dating, you do not, and she
asks what will happen if you fall
in love. You don’t know what will
happen, tell her you’re terrified,
remember that you are still the same
person who moved in with a man
two weeks after meeting him.
She has the opposite fear, that
it will never happen, and you both
consider the possibilities, sipping
your drinks. A few days ago you
visited the Art Institute on your own,
went first to Paulus Moreelse’s Portrait
of a Young Lady where you gazed
raptly into her eyes, stood as close
as you could get, whispering that
you needed her guidance. That pale
face above the dense lace collar
and puffed red and black sleeves,
above the profusion of gold and pearls,
ribbons and gemstones, seemed to grow
more enigmatic and you were sure
she was telling you that you already
knew the answer, and you, in turn,
revealed a secret you haven’t
confided to your closest friends,
can’t even manage to put in this poem.



Jennifer Finstrom.jpg

Jennifer Finstrom is an adjunct instructor at DePaul University in the Writing, Rhetoric, and Discourse Department and is also Outreach Coordinator at DePaul’s University Center for Writing-based Learning (UCWbL). She was the poetry editor of Eclectica Magazine for thirteen years, and recent publications include Escape Into Life and MockingHeart Review. Her work also appears in Silver Birch Press’s Ides: A Collection of Poetry Chapbooks and other Silver Birch Press anthologies.