Young Woman Drawing, 1801

                Attribution changed from Jacques Louis-David
                to Constance Charpentier, and again
                to Marie-Denise Villers, 1774-1821

Subject and maker shed their names, and here
the Met displays that multinominal picture
on a brochure: self-portrait of the artist,
perhaps, ageless. She is not setting out,

pale in an empire dress, nor packing shawls
in a carriage trunk. As she sits forward, still,
she hopes only to gaze into a mirror
in shadow, sunlight falling on blank paper,

until her penstrokes dance, and ever after,
to slough off names and be the-one-who-sawglass-
shine. How did it bloom in her, this hidden
boldness? Peering out from under wisps of amber

hair strayed from a chignon, hoisting a sketchpad
onto her lap, she lurks at a dark watch,
while there, behind her, outside a cracked pane
proud lovers laugh on a terrace in bright sun.