photograph of sarah

This is what caught me tonight.
At the party was a physics professor.
I asked him what is a photograph:
"the imperfection of the individual through the matrix."

Sarah's photo opening:
deluxe women, whimpering men,
wine in glasses,
we drank from mugs.
Sarah told me about her summer of strength
and how she's lucky it lasted.
When her father died,
she claimed his wedding ring,
she wears it now around her neck,
against her chest.
I wonder if her fingers were big enough,
would she wear it correctly.
I wonder if her father gave her such a chest
so that she would be able to carry such a weight.
Tragedy has been driven from this house,
fathers and husbands
buried away under the newer clothes,
just never thrown away enough.
Sarah gave all of his suits
to her boyfriend, plucking each like hair
from the room dedicated to his objects:
photographs faded and indecipherable,
chairs folded and stacked.

In a room such as Sarah's living room,
I gather no light,
reflect no shadow.
I crawl underneath the upholstery of the chair
so as my face gains texture,
my body shape.
Each guest sits upon me as if I were a throne.
I lay across the floor a page
for each of them to walk across
and they call it polished wood, a pavement, a pathway.

A borrowed family extends far and breaks easily.
I talk my mother in circles and circles
just to try and pare away some layer of skin.
All I find there is the unsplendid stuff,
used and torpid nipple,
sagging, under-nourished elbow,
scarred belly from which all feeling has been stolen.
In dreams I pull myself out of this body
and force it into hers.
The fat feels warm and unaware,
the toes jiggle on the coffee table in front of the tv,
the fingers won't reach far enough over my back
and so I wiggle against the wool of the chair instead.

It took me a long time to become beautiful.
Sarah had one year up on me,
with her hips, breasts and history.
Now, awkwardly orphaned,
maybe she will notice soon
how uncomfortable it is to use the space around us.
If we tried to dance with it, we'd drop it,
if we tried to photograph it,
it would bend too close to breaking.
Maybe Sarah too will find herself
above the room, under the skin
seeing all of us in such beautiful imperfection,
standing on all fours,

what precious animals are we.

Bridget Cross

Copyright © Bridget Cross
November 1998

Next in ring: ...a poem in this room by Michael Estabrook...
Back to room: Story of Ms. Hair
Back to AgD: Return to Agnieszka's Dowry Welcoming Room

Copyright © 1998 A Small Garlic Press. All rights reserved.
Created 1998/4/29. Updated last on 2000/7/17.