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In this short film, she visits the National Gallery and National Portrait Gallery in London to meet curator Dr Francesca Whitlum-Cooper and see the National Gallery archives. 

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Find out more about the Linked Lives project and National Gallery X (NGX).

Linked Lives Poem

How did I know where I was going
beneath the shadow of your fingers?
When the sky was a coat sleeve
and all the rivers dried to paint.

I’ve heard of the ocean,
irises and ambergris,
an auger when the soil freezes,
one teaspoon of baker’s yeast.

In late December, the branches broke.
Soursop fell to the earth.
Is it in the burden of fruit
that a branch bows into a latitude?
At your feet, a shell of armor
dismembered as an archipelago.

Show me the loose thread
of your stocking in the darkened
parlor and I promise
to pull it into a pipeline
at the bottom of the big
house in LaPlace.

Oh sunrise and palm oil,
church pews and molasses
for the mosquitos that hatch
inside the rain bucket out back.
We couldn’t have guessed
how everything would turn
so familiar.

But I had gotten it wrong,
every day and every night—
that a line bends to your knowing,
as if hands only run
where the eyes tell them to.

"No", you told me,
"that’s what ships are for,
to lay down a field of sugarcane
that we might call an astrolabe."

So the wind spreads you like seeds
into the corner of the sea
at Exeter Hall. A hand
points to the sky, but you
hold steady, eyes ahead,

as if listening to the ground
explain June to winter:
It’s not that I soften,
if you can believe me.

More like a yawning mouth
and deep red curtains, the humid
sigh from somewhere,
then light.