Portrait

Portrait

Leah Gonzalez

Then I hear the first clicks of the shutter,
aperture opens and closes,
like a gaping mouth feeding on my flesh.
I unfurl myself and stretch my body
along the hardwood floor,
smacking my skin like icy marble,
my only wardrobe a royal coat of fine dust
draped over me to keep me warm.

My body starts to move and
I no longer inhabit my bones.
They move on their own,
turning and twisting me
into different shapes.

My body a foreign object.
My jaw quivers and I can’t stop moving
otherwise I will freeze.
I must keep moving.
I must keep moving.

I watch myself in the mirror,
glowing in its gilded frame,
cracked and flecked with gold,
like how I feel inside, sometimes.
She crouches near me,
her camera pointing at the mirror,
and me, her subject.

In her eyes, the question that she won’t ask.

After all, it’s not every day
I ask this of a stranger,
nor a friend,
acquaintance is too strong a word.
Is there a word for someone you meet once
and never see again?
Two strangers who crossed paths
and never spoke again.
Until tonight.

My body feels itself
for the first time,
I don’t think about the camera,
I barely think about her presence,
because something is happening,

I’m not sure what, but I feel my body,
feel the goosebumps, feel the hardwood floor,
feel my softness, feel the space of my surrender.

The rain beats down an army on the roof,
washes away the spores of self-doubt and ridicule
that have congealed imaginary spheres inside of me,
liberating the alleys and the creeks of my veins
The sliding glass doors look out into obscurity,
reflecting the two women.

I see myself in the gilded mirror,
my curls sprawled on the floor,
my body a sumptuous feast.
I have never seen myself like this before.
My face looks different, the angles sharper,
the eyes brighter, two moons in a bruised sky.

Am I that creature, eyes glowing,
peeking back at me through the dark?

Leah Gonzalez

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