Woman With a Crown, Diane Corson

Diane Corson, Becoming Sea


Woman With a Crown


In line to step into the X-ray machine
at the airport
I was nudged in the back of my legs
it seemed to not be aggressive
I turned slowly to see her in a wheelchair

Old beyond anything I’ve ever seen
with the softest eyes and gentlest demeanor
gray hair held back into a bun with a wreath, a crown
of green and white embroidered flowers
around her head
I felt her to have special powers
whether a witch or a native warrior woman
I told her she was beautiful with the flowered crown
I turned back to face the machine

Another nudge came from her
she held out her hands with the flowered crown
she said, “for you”
in my humble voice I said that she was
too lovely
wearing her crown
no one else could ever wear it
delighted she placed it back on her head
with a gentle sfumato look in her Mona Lisa smile
heightened by the not knowing

Diane Corson


Review by Nancy Sobanik

A brief encounter in line occurs between an airport traveler and a disabled crone. The poem takes on a surreal quality as the narrator seemingly falls under a spell from the beauty and grace of the exchange. This poem’s strength is in the rich details that Diane Corson uses to bring the scene to life. There is contrast between the early description of the woman “Old beyond anything I’ve seen” and the later realization that the woman is childlike in her delight due to her apparent dementia.


Review by Claire Scott

What a terrific description of this woman in a wheelchair. I love the flowered crown. It tells us so much about the woman. And I like the mystery of who this woman is. A witch? A warrior? The exchange between the speaker and the woman is really alive. A lovely airport vignette about two people who will probably never meet again, but both very moved by the short meeting. “Sfumato” is a great description of this moment. And the last line is terrific. I am not sure the fourth line in the first stanza is needed. It seems to detract from the moment. I also think “softest eyes and gentlest demeanor” could be stronger. The language in rest of the poem is so evocative. I really like this poem. Thank you!


Review by Mary Giudice

The line “I felt her to have special powers” can apply to the poet here too… it’s a poet’s special power to recognize what’s sweet and bitter and worth dignifying in an encounter like the one described in this poem. Beautiful!



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